A mysterious chunk of space trash is careening towards earth and as it gets closer to breaking into our atmosphere and burning up in a ball of fire, astronomers are scrambling to figure out just what the hell it is. Man-made is about all they know at this point.
Existing evidence suggest the mysterious object is a hollow, low-density object like an old rocket booster. According to Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowel, it's most likely "a lost piece of space history that’s come back to haunt us."
Dubbed WT1190F, the object was discovered in early October, and it was immediately clear that this hunk of junk was unique. For starters, at one to two meters across, it’s tiny, at least as far as these things go. It’s also orbiting the Earth on a elliptical path, circling the planet every three weeks. That’s a pattern rarely seen in typical asteroids, which, among other complicated measurements, tells astronomers this is a man-made object that probably won't make landfall
Instead, when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere on November 14th, the object will slow, get hotter than the blazes of hell and damnation itself, and disintegrate into nothingness. A few pieces may fall to Earth, but nothing to get concerned about — especially since it’s expected to make contact some 40 miles off of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. It will most certainly make for some vivid photos, though.
WT1190F is being watched closely by astronomers interested in seeing how space junk re-enters earth. It's a topic about which they know little but have great interest, given the veritable landfill orbiting the planet. According to NASA, there are half a million pieces of space shit encircling the globe. Some of it's natural, some of it's man-made and some of it will one day fall to the highly-populated planet below. WT1190F provides a chance to better predict how that will happen and better ensure you don't get hit with it.