United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is informing the public that Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) spacecraft may re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on Tuesday, June 16 at 4:59 a.m. EDT. NASA said the exact location of the re-entry cannot be predicted, however, TRMM’s orbit only brings it over the tropics between 35 degrees North latitude and 35 degrees South latitude which include Philippines.
“NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office estimates 12 components of the TRMM spacecraft could survive reentry. The chance that one of these pieces would strike someone is approximately 1 in 4,200, which is a relatively low chance,” NASA explained.
“Most of the spacecraft will burn up in the atmosphere during its uncontrolled re-entry.” However, NASA urges the public to report to local authorities any suspected sightings of TRMM debris. “The pieces of TRMM expected to survive re-entry are made of titanium and are not toxic. Debris could have sharp edges and should not be touched or handled, in the unlikely event someone were to find TRMM fragments.”
“Since the beginning of the space age in the 1950s, there has been no confirmed report of an injury resulting from re-entering space objects. The last NASA spacecraft to re-enter was the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) in September 2011. UARS was a much larger satellite than TRMM and NASA received no reports of surviving debris,” NASA said.
TRMM is a joint space mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) designed to study rainfall for weather and climate research.