Washington: A newly discovered piece of space junk aptly named ‘WT1190F or WTF’ will hit the Earth on November 13.
Scientists predict that the object, which is likely artificial in origin, will plummet to Earth at about 6.15am on November 13 from above the Indian Ocean, about 40 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka.
“It’s a lost piece of space history that’s come back to haunt us,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was quoted as saying to Nature.
The object was detected by the Catalina Sky Survey, a lab at the University of Arizona, Tucson, aimed at discovering asteroids and comets that swing close to Earth.
According to Bill Gray, an independent astronomy-software developer, who has been tracking the debris with astronomers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, WT1190F travels a highly elliptical orbit, swinging out twice as far as the Earth-Moon distance.
NASA has estimated that there are roughly 500,000 pieces of debris orbiting the planet, and some of that detritus inevitably falls back to Earth every year. It can cause problems for people on Earth although much of it burns up in the atmosphere.