Friday, 24 February 2012

Space debris lands in Brazil village

Through Carlos Bella on the satobs mailing list, news broke today that an object which almost certainly is space-debris crashed in the Brazilian village of Anapurus on February 22, 2012, near 6 am local time (9 UTC). It landed about 6 yards from a house and damaged trees upon impact.

Photo's of the object can be see here.They show a spherical object that strongly resembles a spherical rocket fuel cell (tank) or a Helium pressurization tank. These are the most resistent objects among space debris and often involved in reported cases of space-debris reaching earth surface.

Ted Molczan quickly noted that date, time and location correspond well to the re-entry of 1997-016C, an Ariane 44L rocket stage from the launch of two geostationary satellites, Thaicom 3 and Bsat-1A, on 17 April 1997.

The Ariane 44L r/b in question re-entered at 9:09 UTC +/- 1 min on 22 February 2012, near 4 S, 312 E. This corresponds well with the time and location of the Anapurus event (3.7 S, 317 E). Anapurus is located right on the re-entry track and was passed within a minute of the estimated re-entry time (movement of the r/b was from West to East, i.e. to the right in the map):

click map to enlarge

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