Artist's view of unidentified flying debris over Sri Lanka. Credit: Don Davis/copyright Don Davis/Used with permission.

Artist’s view of unidentified flying debris over Sri Lanka.
Credit: Don Davis/copyright Don Davis/Used with permission.

Updated: Langbroek of SatTrackCam Leiden, the Netherlands reports that the first imagery is in of the re-entry of artificial object WT1190F south of Sri Lanka at 6:18 UT today, coming from a trans-Lunar orbit.
Imagery is from a research aircraft organized by UAE Space Agency, IAC, NASA, ESA.

Go to:
https://youtu.be/YJT-q8_dl88

Whatever it was – but tagged object WT1190F – turned into a fireball finale south of Sri Lanka.

The unknown object — estimated to be one to three meters in length, was discovered in 2013 by Arizona University’s Catalina Astronomical observatory.

The object was expected to enter the atmosphere and start its burnout in an area above the Indian Ocean off the southern coast of Sri Lanka at around 06:19 GMT on November 13.

Researchers at the time thought it should be possible to observe the end-of-life object with the naked eye, expected to be as bright and visible as the full moon in daylight.

 

Viewing campaign

The UAE Space Agency and the Abu Dhabi-based International Astronomy Center have announced that they are co-organizing a joint mission to observe and study the entry of the unknown object – what is believed to be a chunk of human-made space debris.

The United Arab Emirates is sponsoring an airborne observing campaign to study the entry of space debris object WT1190F. The International Astronomical Center (IAC) in Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency is hosting a team of veteran U.S. and German observers of spacecraft re-entries to study the space debris returning to Earth on an asteroid-like orbit near Sri Lanka on November 13, 2015. Credit: ESA

The United Arab Emirates is sponsoring an airborne observing campaign to study the entry of space debris object WT1190F. The International Astronomical Center (IAC) in Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency is hosting a team of veteran U.S. and German observers of spacecraft re-entries to study the space debris returning to Earth on an asteroid-like orbit near Sri Lanka on November 13, 2015.
Credit: ESA

According to the UAE Space Agency, the co-operative mission will include international scientists from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), as well as scientists from a number of international space observatories.

The UAE mission involves a private aircraft that will be dispatched from Abu Dhabi on the morning of the entry event. The airplane will head to the site where the space object is expected to enter.

Small laboratory

The aircraft will remain airborne for approximately 30 minutes, while the team on-board will make their observations using special equipment before returning to Abu Dhabi.

The instrument teams onboard the aircraft are intent on observing the entry. Credit: IAC/UAE Space Agency/NASA/ESA)

The instrument teams onboard the aircraft are intent on observing the entry.
Credit: IAC/UAE Space Agency/NASA/ESA)

 

“After a day of hard work that saw the aircraft interior transformed into a small laboratory, over twenty cameras are now mounted and ready for deployment…so far, so good,” report the sky watching-ready scientists. “The weather could still make it challenging to position the aircraft at the right location in the right orientation to see the entry. Also, we hope that the object has enough mass and kinetic energy to see the entry in the daytime sky.”

Early warning and response

Explains HE Dr. Mohamed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency:

“The studies and data collected while this object enters the Earth’s atmosphere will be invaluable for our understanding of near Earth space objects movement and how they are affected by the various environmental factors. It will also represent an opportunity to validate strategies for how a global early warning and response system for space objects entering the Earth’s atmosphere can be managed and coordinated in the future.”

Fishing ban, no-fly zone

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense in Sri Lanka has announced a “Fishing Ban” and a No-Fly-Zone in the Southern sea area and over the sky given the incoming space debris.

Credit: Bill Gray/Project Pluto

Credit: Bill Gray/Project Pluto

The space junk is expected to fall into the ocean about 65 kilometers to 100 kilometers off the southern coast of Sri Lanka.

“According to the scientific information, its mass is not sufficient to cause any threat to the area as it appears to be manmade and quite small. Possibly it could burn-up when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere and remains will fall into the sea,” notes the Ministry of Defense. “In accordance with the current scientific information, its mass is not sufficient to cause any threat to the area.”

The object could be a remaining piece from an early moon mission and is expected to fall around 11:48 a.m. local time.

The Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies in Sri Lanka is coordinating related sky fall duties with the SETI Institute in California.

Mystery object caught on camera. Credit: Marco Langbroek of SatTrackCam Leiden in The Netherlands.

Mystery object caught on camera.
Credit: Marco Langbroek of SatTrackCam Leiden in The Netherlands.

New images

Marco Langbroek of SatTrackCam Leiden in The Netherlands reports that the object is artificial and is in a geocentered orbit in the Earth-Moon system with apogee at twice the lunar distance.

“It is probably one to two meters large and evidently hardware from some, as yet unidentified, lunar mission,” Langbroek reports.

Langbroek has imaged the object and an animated GIF of the images can be seen here:

http://sattrackcam.blogspot.nl/2015/11/small-unusual-artificial-object-wt1190f.html

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