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Sep 23, 2011 at 04:06pm IST

NASA satellite chunks likely to hit Earth today

New Delhi: Breakaway chunks from an old NASA satellite are likely to reach Earth on Friday.

Though there's a very remote chance of them hitting anyone, but NASA is unable to predict where they'll land, till just two hours before impact.

The size of the chunk is equivalent to a bus, speeding in at 27000 km/hour, and will break up and burn as soon as it enters our atmosphere.

However, even after that, as many as 26 different pieces, weighing up to 500 kg, will reach Earth. And NASA has no way to stop them from hitting Earth.

“It's the largest space craft of its type to come back to Earth in 30 years,” said Mark Matney of Johnson Space Centre, NASA.

NASA is unsure where the breakaway pieces will land, but it's betting they'll fall into the ocean or smack into an unpopulated area on earth.

“We can't control how it rotates. If it presents a large, flat profile on its way in, it'll probably slow down and disintegrate faster. But if it's tilted so that not too much of its surface is directly exposed, it'll come in at a really fast clip,” said Matney.

Old spacecraft as big as this fall back to Earth at least once a year. This one cost $750 million, and was sent up 20 years ago.