Mysterious space junk named ‘WTF’ heading towards Indian Ocean

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 27, 2015 19:00 IST
WT1190F, a space debris, is coming back to haunt us (ESA)

A mysterious space junk is heading towards Earth and will plunge into the Indian Ocean next month, a report in the science journal Nature has said.

To be precise, it will hurtle into the Indian Ocean, about 104 km or 65 miles off the southern tip of Sri Lanka on November 13 at around 5pm.

What makes this unusual is that no one has any clue regarding the source of this space debris named ‘WT1190F’ except that it is man-made. And researchers claim that it is sheer coincidence that the unknown object had ‘WTF’ in its name.

WT1190F, which was orbiting beyond the moon and its movements were initially not tracked by observers, was first identified by Catalina Sky Survey, a programme aimed at discovering asteroids and comets that swing close to Earth.

“It is a lost piece of space history that’s come back to haunt us,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, told Nature.

“It’s coming in fast and will get very hot - it’s possible a few dense parts of say a rocket engine will survive to impact the ocean,” McDowell said.

McDowell is hoping to get some information on the object after it lands. But scientists are not sure how much of the debris will remain as most of them will burn up in the atmosphere.

“(Still) I would not necessarily want to be going fishing directly underneath it,” Bill Gray, independent astronomy-software developer told Nature.

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