A huge piece of space junk, appropriately nicknamed WTF, is on a collision course with Earth.
The space debris, officially designated WT1190F (which is where it got its nickname WTF from), is expected to fall in the Indian Ocean about 40 miles off the Southern tip of Sri Lanka at about 6:15am on 13 November.
The object, which could possibly date as far back as the Apollo Space Missions in the 1960s, was discovered in early October by the Catalina Sky Survey — a project intended to provide early warning of approaching comets and asteroids.
At first astronomers had no idea what the object could be. But tracking its trajectory back, led to sightings dating back to 2012 and 2013 being uncovered.
The debris is said to be 1 to 2 metres in size and hollow, which according to scientists means it could be a spent rocket stage or a piece of panelling from a space mission. It’s currently travelling through space at 78,000mph.
Check out the footage from the University of Hawaii’s 2.2-metre telescope taken on 9 October.
WT1190F is the first known piece of space debris to re-enter the atmosphere. It is said that the disruptive gravity of the Sun and Moon must have kicked it into a highly elliptical orbit, far outside the Moon’s, which as a result has put it on a collision course to Earth.
Independent Astronomy Software Developer Bill Gray has been working to track the debris with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“WT1190F travels a highly elliptical orbit, swinging out twice as far as the Earth-Moon distance,” Grays told Nature.
Gray says much, if not all, of the debris will burn up in the atmosphere before it hits Earth.
But “I would not necessarily want to be going fishing directly underneath it,” he says.
Scientists are worried that remnants of the space junk could dive bomb from the skies months after the initial impact.
Do you believe the debris will burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere, or do you think it’s time to call Bruce Willis for help? Have your say in the comments below!