WASHINGTON – That dead NASA satellite fell into what might be the ideal spot – part of the southern Pacific Ocean about as far from large land masses as you can get, U.S. space officials said Tuesday.
New U.S. Air Force calculations put the 6-ton satellite’s death plunge early Saturday thousands of miles from northwestern North America, where there were reports of sightings. Instead, it plunged into areas where remote islands dot a vast ocean.
NASA says those new calculations show the 20-year-old satellite entered Earth’s atmosphere generally above American Samoa. But falling debris as it broke apart didn’t start hitting the water for another 300 miles to the northeast, southwest of Christmas Island, just after midnight EDT Saturday.
Experts believe about two dozen metal pieces from the bus-sized satellite fell over a 500-mile span.
“It’s a relatively uninhabited portion of the world, very remote,” NASA orbital debris scientist Mark Matney said.
“This is certainly a good spot in terms of risk.”