|NASA ARTIST CONCEPTION|
NASA's UARS satellite is now predicted to fall back to the earth between September 22 and 24 according to a NASA orbital update which was released today.
As of Sept. 20, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 127 mi by 140 mi (205 km by 225 km). Re-entry is expected Sept. 23, plus or minus a day. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry. Predictions will become more refined over the next two days.
The re-entry of UARS is advancing because of a sharp increase in solar activity since the beginning of this week.
Increased solar activity heats up the earth's atmosphere, sending more atmospheric molecules further into space which causes additional drag on low orbital satellites.
The range of latitude where UARS is expected to fall remains the same.
The risk to public safety or property is extremely small according to NASA. Since the beginning of the Space Age in the late-1950s, there have been no confirmed reports of an injury resulting from re-entering space objects. Nor is there a record of significant property damage resulting from a satellite re-entry.
However, all heavily populated areas of the earth could potentially experience falling debris.
FEMA has made preparations just in case UARS fall on the United States.