A Mysterious Piece of Space Junk Is Headed for Earth, and Astronomers Are Stoked

Brights - Die Natur des Zweifels

Image credit: NASA Image credit: NASA

An unidentified piece of space debris originating from beyond the Moon is giving astronomers the rare chance to observe an object on a collision course with Earth.


The object, named WT1190F, is unique in that its trajectory has been unusually easy for scientists to determine; with most space objects, accurately pinpointing a date of impact is difficult. But Bill Gray, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has even established a time for entry: 6:20 AM UTC, on November 13.

WT1190F’s entry will give astronomers across the globe the chance to test out the network they’ve established amongst themselves in case a more dangerous space object sets its course for Earth. Most of WT1190F will burn up in the atmosphere, and what’s left will plunk into the Indian Ocean, so it poses little danger—though Gray told Nature he “would not necessarily want to be…

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