Unidentified Space Junk Labelled 'WTF' Is About To Crash Into Earth
Oct 26 2015
WT1190F is one to two meters in length and probably hollow, but beyond that, we have no idea WTF the aptly-named piece of space garbage is. While there are many thousands of piece of space trash - satellite fragments, spent rocket stages, old paneling - orbiting close to the Earth, we've only tracked 20 or so artificial objects in distant orbits.
Detected by the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona in the USA a few weeks ago, WT1190F's trajectory has been calculated based on 2012 and 2013 sightings found in old telescope archives.
The disruptive gravity of the Sun and Moon are thought to have kicked it into a highly elliptical orbit, far outside the Moon's, which has put it on a collision course with Earth. Most of WT1190F will burn up in the atmosphere, and what's left will plunk into the Indian Ocean, so it poses little danger-though Gray told Nature he "would not necessarily want to be going fishing directly underneath it". The debris might be a discarded parts of a spaceship or even a remnant from the Saturn V rockets which took Apollo astronauts to the moon or even a fuel tank considering it's "hollow" appearance.
I just hope we get to learn what it is. Or as Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics puts it, "A lost piece of space history that's come back to haunt us".
Top space scientists have spotted an unidentified chunk of space junk heading for a direct impact with our planet, but they cannot be certain what it is.