Massive piece of space junk dubbed WTF on collision course with Earth

Manmade object designated WT1190F – which could date from Apollo space missions – to strike Earth next month

A huge piece of space debris – which may date from the Apollo space missions – is on a collision course with Earth.

Scientists warn the manmade junk, officially designated WT1190F but nicknamed WTF, will strike Earth at about 6.15am on November 13.

Much of the hollow object, which may be a spent rocket stage or panelling shed by a recent Moon mission, should burn up in the atmosphere.

But any remnants could dive bomb from the skies – and an international team of astronomers are using it to test emergency plans for dealing with potentially apocalyptic space objects.

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The light object in the centre is WT1190F as observed by the University of Hawaii 2.2-metre telescope

WT1190F, which is one to two metres in diameter, is expect to fall in the Indian Ocean about 40 miles off the southern tip of Sri Lanka.

I would not necessarily want to be going fishing directly underneath it.

Bill Gray, who is helping track the debris

Independent astronomy software developer Bill Gray, who has been working to track the debris with Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told journal Nature: “I would not necessarily want to be going fishing directly underneath it.”

Much space junk orbits the Earth, but WT1190F is the first known piece to re-enter the atmosphere.

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.

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