Space Debris WT1190F Falls Off Sri Lanka in Indian Ocean

debrisAs expected the space debris identified as “WT1190F” has fallen in the Indian Ocean, off the southern tip of Sri Lanka on Friday and most of it was burnt up on re-entry into the atmosphere and failed to entice the spectgators for a night of crackers in the sky.

Measuring 3 to 6 feet, the junk was believed to be man-made spacecraft that could have gone off course and turned into space junk orbiting the earth before it entered the atmosphere. However, credit goes to ESA experts who have predicted its fall and the exact location.

The object was first detected on October 3 by the Catalina Sky Survey of the University of Arizona, Tucson, while surveying asteroids and comets that were set to fall or move closer to Earth. Called WT1190F, the space junk was calculated to enter the atmosphere of earth on November 13 at 06:19 GMT (11:49 local; 07:19 CET) about 65 miles away from the Sri Lanka’s southern tip into the Indian Ocean, according to European Space Agency (ESA) and it exactly did fall in the location on Friday.

Though it was touted as unidentified flying object (UFO) since its main body was not proved, many doomsday sayers predicted end of earth but space scientists denied any such eventuality and for umpteenth time these doomsday predictors were proved wrong.

The Catalina Sky Survey, which scans the space for approaching comets and asteroids, found the WT1190F, that was spiralling down to hit Earth, while some scientists suggested that it could be part of NASA’s Apollo program.

Some doomsday predictors said that the fall on 13 November, the 3rd Friday 13 this year, could be taken as a sign of the second coming of Jesus Christ and Judgement Day. But this proposition proved baseless with no scientific basis as the object was quite small, at most a couple of metres in diameter, and most ofit was burnt on reentry into earth’s atmosphere.


Otherwise, WT1190F was first discovered by the Mount Lemmon Survey, a participant in the Catalina Sky Survey Near-Earth Object surveying program on February 18, 2013, and named initially as UDA34A3, but they had lost track of it soon after, with an observation arc of only 5 hours. Later, it was seen by the same survey on November 29, 2013 and given the title UW8551D but lost again after 1 hour 35 minutes.

Again it was discovered on October 3, 2015 and given the code WT1190F and its orbit calculations showed and surprised the scientists that it is not in the orbit of any known artificial satellite either. Its orbit changed significantly in brightness, from magnitude 16 at perigee, to magnitude 23 at apogee. However, its fall was accurate and as expected without any damage though skywatchers missed the glow in the sky they expected to witness.

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