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Satellite expected to crash into earth on Friday

TORONTO – As an out-of-control NASA satellite heads towards earth at high speeds, one expert said people in North America can breathe a sigh of relief.

The latest projection from the space agency is that the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite will crash down sometime on Friday afternoon, but NASA scientists still don’t know where it will land.

Gordon Shepherd, a professor of atmospheric science at York University, told 1310News it’s not going to fall on North America.

“The earth, which rotates under the orbit, is going to be rotated in such a way that North America is not under the orbit at that time, so it can’t possibly fall on North America,” Shepherd said.

He also said the odds are it will a splashdown rather than a crashdown.

“Just because the earth’s surface is three-quarters water, it’s a three-to-one chance that it will fall into the ocean,” Shepherd said.

The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite was launched in 1991 and had an original mission length of 18 months, but was extended and lasted until Dec. 2005.

Shepherd said one of the satellite’s 10 components was conceived at York. It was called ‘WINDII’ and was used to measure wind speeds in the earth’s atmosphere.