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Entries in satellite (6)

Wednesday
Oct102012

Satellite Images Appear to Show US Bin Laden Op Training Ground

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A civilian satellite captured what appear to be clear, overhead images of the North Carolina mock-up of Osama bin Laden’s compound used by SEAL Team Six to train for the top secret mission to take out the al Qaeda leader.

The images, posted on several satellite imaging websites as well on the map function for the search engine Bing, show what looks like a brand new, mostly open-air building complex in the rural town in North Carolina that is strikingly similar to the layout of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

One satellite imaging website, TerraServer, provides DigitalGlobe images from different dates, apparently showing that the building was constructed sometime after Jan. 14, 2011, as reported at the anti-secrecy website Cryptome.org Tuesday. While one image reportedly taken from Feb. 15 shows several vehicles at the complex as well as what appears to be a construction crane, another from just two months later, April 30, shows no vehicles at all and the complex apparently abandoned.

[See Images of the Training Compound HERE]

The next day, President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a daring raid by American troops.

The final available satellite image of the compound, from November 2011, shows it has been completely leveled.

The book No Easy Day, which was written by a former Navy SEAL on the mission under the pseudonym Mark Owen, revealed that the elite team repeatedly practiced overtaking bin Laden’s home at a look-a-like complex in North Carolina.

“Nestled in a remote part of the base, the practice compound was built to scale using plywood, chain-link fence, and shipping containers,” Owen writes. “The level of detail on the mock-up was impressive. The construction crews at the base had planted trees, dug a ditch around the compound, and even put in mounded dirt to simulate the potato fields that surround the compound in Pakistan … The construction crew didn’t ask why and never said no.”

The CIA, which led the intelligence side of the bin Laden mission, declined to comment and the Department of Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Oct222011

German ROSAT Satellite Expected to Hit Earth Sunday

NASA(WASHINGTON) -- A German satellite is expected to fall back to Earth Sunday, marking the second time a satellite has hit Earth in the past month, an occurence that typically happens only once per year.

Last month UARS re-entered the atmosphere, and now ROSAT is barreling back toward Earth, too. ROSAT, which was designed to map X-rays in the sky, was launched on a Delta 2 rocket from Florida in 1990.

While functioning in space, ROSAT found roughly 110,000 stars, supernovas and cosmic rays emitting X-rays.

The German Space Agency is putting the chances at one in 2,000 that someone will be struck by a piece of ROSAT. That works out to odds of about one in 14 trillion that any one of the 7 billion or so people on Earth will be whacked by a piece of the satellite.

The threat of someone being hit by a piece of UARS was one in 3,200. The remnants ended up falling in the remote Pacific Ocean.

ROSAT will likely end up in the sea as well, since 75 percent of Earth is covered by water.

Still, it's too soon to tell where it will crash. It's something that the U.S. space agency and the German space agency, who are monitoring ROSAT's re-entry, won't be able to tell until hours before re-entry.

Solar activity is the prime force that will determine how quickly the satellite falls back to earth.

NASA orbital debris scientist Mark Matney told ABC News there is a lot of junk up in space waiting to come down on us.

"The U.S. space Surveillance Network has catalogued 16 thousand things in Earth orbit, many of them are quite small pieces of debris, but about 7,000 of those are large objects, spacecraft and large rocket bodies, we have made quite a mess up there," Matney said.

Germany's ROSAT X-ray astronomy satellite is smaller than UARS but is a bigger threat because most of the satellite is made of heat resistant components, including its 880-pound primary mirror, which will be the single largest fragment to survive re-entry.

It's estimated that up to 3,750 pounds of the decaying satellite could survive re-entry.

ROSAT was turned off in 1999 and its altitude has gradually dropped from 350 miles above the Earth to 149 miles today. The threat area is 53 degrees north to 53 degrees south.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct202011

Another Satellite Headed for Earth

An artist's impression of the ROSAT satellite in space. It is expected to re-enter the atmosphere this weekend. (German Aerospace Center)(HOUSTON) -- A German satellite called ROSAT, launched in 1990 to map X-rays in the sky, is now in a decaying orbit, and Germany's space agency said Thursday it was likely to be caught by the outer layers of the atmosphere sometime Saturday or Sunday.

Like NASA's UARS satellite last month, ROSAT is large enough, and sturdy enough, that pieces of it are likely to survive re-entry. The German Aerospace Center said the odds that somebody, somewhere, could get hit are one in 2,000 -- though your personal chances of being that unlucky someone are more like one in several trillion.

"The main thing we worried about was people getting the wrong message and people panicking," said Mark Matney of NASA's orbital debris office in Houston, which tracked UARS and is now watching ROSAT.

Where and when will the satellite come down? It’s hard to be precise. Like UARS, it passes 53 degrees north and south of the equator on each orbit, which means it gets as far north as Edmonton, Canada, and as far south as Punta Arenas, Chile.

"It will not be possible to make any kind of reliable forecast about where the satellite will actually come down until about one or two hours before the fact," said Heiner Klinkrad of the European Space Agency. "In the final phase, ROSAT will be 'caught' by the atmosphere at which point...it will go into 'free fall.'"

After that, some pieces of debris could fall in a narrow oval about 300 miles long. But NASA reminds people that 70 percent of Earth is water, and much of the rest is desert, mountain, tundra or open farmers' fields. Despite the much-debated population explosion, we humans only live on a low percentage of the planet's surface.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep242011

NASA UARS Satellite Crashes Into Earth: Location Unknown

PRNewsFoto/NASA(WASHINGTON) -- The abandoned 6-ton Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) entered the earth's atmosphere early this morning but where it crashed remains unknown, according to NASA.

In an update posted on NASA's website, the "decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24."

Officials said it entered the atmosphere somewhere over the Pacific Ocean but the "precise re-entry time and location are not yet known with certainty."

On Friday, officials predicted the satellite would be passing over Canada, Africa and Australia, and vast areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.

However, NASA said earlier that the risk to public safety is very remote. So far there have been no reports of injuries.

NASA said some 26 chunks of the old satellite—which is roughly the size of a bus—are likely to survive the descent, and fall at hundreds of miles per hour over an area of some 500 square miles. The agency said it knows of no case in which people have been hurt by space junk.

"We believe that the risk is sufficiently low that no one needs to change their behaviors," NASA's Mark Matney said.

Bill Ailor, principal engineer at the Aerospace Corp., studies incoming space junk for the Air Force. He said pieces of other satellites have come crashing down into villages, farms and random datelines around the planet.

"I actually think a lot of this kind stuff comes down and nobody knows what it is and just thinks it's junk and ignores it," Ailor told ABC News.

Ailor and his colleagues study satellite components in a lab to figure out what will burn up and what will become a potential threat—just like the pieces of the UARS satellite.

But according to Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief orbital debris scientist, any one person's chances of getting hit by debris are tiny—something like 1 in 21 trillion. The chances that of the 7 billion people on Earth, one of them, somewhere, could be hit are more like 1 in 3,200.

Despite those odds, Ailor said that a hazard is a hazard.

"Five hundred pounds of stainless steel represents a hazard—if you're standing under it," Ailor joked.

Launched in 1991, the UAS satellite is the largest NASA satellite to fall back to Earth uncontrolled since Skylab in 1979.

Skylab was much larger—about the size of a house—and debris fell in the Australian Outback and the Pacific.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep232011

Weather Satellite Cost Taxpayers $6B, Has Yet to Launch

An artist's rendering of NOAA's existing Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (NOAA)(WASHINGTON) -- While most Americans spent the week fearing a rogue satellite falling out of the sky, perhaps they should have spent a little more time considering the $6 billion the U.S. government spent on satellites that have yet to get off the ground.

After 17 years, more than $6 billion in taxpayer money and three complete project overhauls, a program that was originally intended to launch six weather-tracking satellites before 2018 has yet to put the first test satellite into orbit.

“This is the poster child of a runaway government program that is over-promised, over-budget and, honestly, under-performed,” Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Andy Harris, R- Md., said Friday at a House hearing on the program.

The Joint Polar Satellite System run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will now create two satellites, one that’s set to launch Oct. 25 and another that won’t hit the skies until 2017. By that time the total price tag is expected to balloon to more than $17 billion.

David A. Powner, the director of Information Technology Management Issues at the Government Accountability Office, said at least some of the blame should fall on Congress, which has failed to pass a year-long budget bill since 1997. Because Congress has appropriated funds in short spurts through continuing resolutions, the project has not been able to work off of a steady baseline of funding, he said.

“One of most difficult things for a project manager is uncertainty,” Powner said. “The more re-plannings we have to do, the more uncertainty there is, the more difficult it is for us to accomplish our goals.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

NASA Predicts Satellite to Re-Enter on Friday

Artist's rendering of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (NASA)(WASHINGTON) -- If you're wondering where NASA's aging UARS satellite will crash to Earth, the space agency says you can rest easy.

"Re-entry is expected sometime during the afternoon of Sept. 23, Eastern Daylight Time," said NASA in an update. "The satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period."

Beyond that, nobody can yet predict where space debris will fall from orbit, but the agency said predictions will become "more refined" in the next 24 to 36 hours. It repeated that the risk to people or property is "extremely small."

 

This is the largest NASA satellite to fall back to Earth uncontrolled since Skylab in 1979. UARS is 35 feet long and weighs about 6 tons, but most of it will burn up on re-entry. The little that doesn't is what worries NASA.

Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief orbital debris scientist, said their analysis shows that 26 parts of UARS are dense enough to make it to the Earth's surface.

Johnson said any one person's chances of getting hit by debris are tiny -- something like 1 in 21 trillion. The chances that of the 7 billion people on Earth, one of them, somewhere, could be hit are more like 1 in 3,200.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio