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Space Debris

In a nail-biting operation, Russia's spaceflight controllers pushed the Mir space station into its final fiery descent Thursday night Pacific time, making it the largest man-made object ever brought out of orbit. The controllers allowed themselves a moment of triumph as the station broke up over the target area in the South Pacific east of New Zealand. It had completed 86,331 orbits.
January 5, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
A spent Russian booster rocket reentered the atmosphere over Wyoming and Colorado, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said. Witnesses reported seeing flaming objects in the sky at the time the rocket was reentering, NORAD spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Sean Kelly said. A Wyoming state trooper found a large burned spot in the snow beside a highway but no debris. "It was pretty spectacular," said Riverton Police Capt.
January 13, 1996 | From Associated Press
Endeavour's astronauts fired the space shuttle's thrusters Friday to steer clear of a 350-pound piece of space junk as they closed in on a Japanese satellite they plan to bring home. The junk, a defunct Air Force satellite, would have passed within eight-tenths of a mile of the shuttle--too close for NASA's comfort. But with the evasive action, the two remained at least six miles apart. Flight director Jeff Bantle said controllers had been tracking the satellite for hours.
September 29, 1997 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
An out-of-control NASA Earth observation satellite burned up in the atmosphere, the U.S. Space Command at the Johnson Space Center in Houston said. The Lewis spacecraft, which started tumbling days after being launched in August, crashed into the atmosphere at 17,000 mph and burned up over the southern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Antarctica. Lewis was intended to demonstrate advanced Earth-imaging technology for scientific and commercial purposes.
June 10, 1999
Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, is surrounded by a cloud of microscopic dust particles kicked into orbit when small meteorites strike the surface of the moon, a German-American team reports in today's Nature. Similar dust kicked up earlier in the solar system's evolution probably formed Saturn's famous rings, the team said. The team discovered the dust using a detector on the Galileo spacecraft that has been orbiting Jupiter since December 1995.
March 15, 2001 | From Times Wire Reports
NASA decided to move the international space station to dodge a piece of orbiting debris lost by a spacewalking astronaut on Sunday. The shoebox-sized space junk, part of a foot-restraint system, and the space station, which is docked to the space shuttle Discovery, were both orbiting at speeds of about 5 miles per second. NASA said a collision was unlikely but decided to move up by several hours a scheduled maneuver to boost the station's orbit using the shuttle's rocket engines.
Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have downgraded the threat of an asteroid now speeding toward Earth and say there is no chance it will hit Earth in 2030, but a 1 in 1,000 chance it could hit Earth on Sept. 16, 2071. Last week, scientists with NASA's Office of Near Earth Objects and the International Astronomical Union announced there was a 1 in 500 chance that an object could hit Earth in 2030.
November 29, 2003 | From Times Wire Reports
NASA will leave it to its Russian partners to determine whether an alarming noise aboard the international space station was caused by something hitting the 200-ton outpost, a spokesman for the U.S. space agency said in Cape Canaveral. On Wednesday, station Commander Michael Foale reported hearing a sound like a crunching tin can or flexing sheet metal coming from the rear of the Russian Zvezda module, which serves as a living quarters and galley for the two-man crew.
March 13, 2004 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Beagle 2, the British space probe that disappeared as it descended toward Mars, may have been spotted on the surface of the Red Planet. No signal has been received from the craft since it was due to land on Christmas Day. Satellite images of the area where Beagle 2 was to have come down show four bright spots, which may be the remains of the probe.
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