The mysterious space junk WT1190F finally fell from the sky this morning, keeping scientists glued to their seats as the object burned up in multicolored fireballs.
Jim Wild, Professor of Space Physics at Lancaster University told CNN that it was possible for some fragments to collide with the Earth’s surface. He added that WT1190F was first spotted in 2013, swinging within 250,000 km of the Earth before plunging back out into space. The space junk itself was too small and fragile to be likely to make it to the surface entact but it’s possible that some fragments could make it.
According to the European Space Agency, NEO experts have used observational data to determine the WT1190F’s density. The analysis state that it is much less than that of the solid rocky material that comprises many asteroids. This density is in fact compatible with the object being a hollow shell. This was stated by ESA’s Detlef Koschny in a statement. This means that it’s most likely man-made junk.
WT1190F was scheduled to hit Earth around 6:20 Universal Time (12:20 a.m. CST) on November 13. There was nothing to fear, scientists had stated. They had stated earlier that the likely manmade junk would fall in the sea near Sri Lanka.
Sources from Sri Lanka, however, stated that while the space object WT1190F was scheduled to crash near Sri Lankan waters this morning, it was not sighted and experts believe it to have burnt while entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
An earlier story in Universe Today had described that the object, which was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on October 3, is expected to create a blaze off about 60 miles off the Sri Lanka’s southern coast overnight. Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, got the best views of the object.
As a precautionary measure, the supposedly unidentified object pressed officials to issue no fly and no-fishing zones around the projected crash site. Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence had issued the orders.
Its re-entry was confirmed once again by additional observations of the space object. Checking the latest predictions on Bill Gray of Project Pluto’s page, WT1190F was visible from Europe for a while before it trailed off. It is not easy to track something so small that is moving about 3 arc minutes per second or 3° a minute.
The object was followed by visiting JPL’s Horizons site as it covered the latest ephemerides and orbital elements.
Recent positions had stated that WT1190F was likely to pass almost exactly in front of the Sun prior to burning up and crashing.