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Satellite to tumble to Earth

Posted: September 22, 2011 - 11:01pm

LOS ANGELES — While North America appears to be off the hook, scientists are scrambling to pinpoint exactly where and when a dead NASA climate satellite will plummet back to Earth on Friday.

The 6-ton, bus-sized satellite is expected to break into more than a hundred pieces as it plunges through the atmosphere, most of it burning up.

But if you’re hoping for a glimpse, the odds are slim. Most sightings occur by chance because the re-entry path can’t be predicted early enough to alert people, said Canadian Ted Molczan, who tracks satellites for a hobby.

In all his years of monitoring, Molczan has only witnessed one tumble back to Earth — the 2004 return of a Russian communications satellite.

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