Trash from the International Space Station could hit this Florida home

A few weeks ago, something fell from the sky on the roof of Alejandro Otero’s house, and NASA is investigating the matter.

There is every possibility that this object weighing about 2 pounds has come from the International Space Station. Otero said it tore off the roof and both floors of his two-story home in Naples, Florida.

Otero was not home at the time, but his son was there. A Nest Home security camera captured the sound of the crash at 2:34 pm local time (19:34 UTC) on March 8. This is an important detail because it is a close match for the time – 2:29 p.m. EST (19:29 UTC) – U.S. Space Command recorded the re-entry of a piece of space debris from the space station. At the time, the object was en route to the Gulf of Mexico, heading toward southwest Florida.

This space junk consisted of exhausted ISS batteries, attached to a cargo pallet that was originally supposed to return to Earth in a controlled manner. But a series of delays caused the cargo pallet to miss its return to Earth, so NASA removed the batteries from the space station in 2021 for an unguided reentry.

Otero likely encountered space debris First reported by Wink News, the CBS affiliate for Southwest Florida. Since then, NASA has recovered the debris from the homeowner, according to agency spokesman Josh Finch.

Engineers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will analyze the object “to determine its origin as quickly as possible,” Finch told Ars. “More information will be available once the analysis is complete.”

Ars reported on this reentry When this occurred on March 8, it was noted that the batteries and most of the contents of the cargo carrier would likely have burned up as they fell into the atmosphere. Temperatures would have reached several thousand degrees, causing most of the material to vaporize before reaching the ground.

According to NASA, the mass of the entire pallet, including nine unused batteries from the space station’s power system, was more than 2.6 metric tons (5,800 lb). Size-wise, it was almost twice as tall as a standard kitchen refrigerator. It is important to note that objects of this mass or larger regularly fall to Earth on guided trajectories, but they are usually failed satellites or rocket stages left in orbit after completing their missions.

in a post on xOtero said he is waiting for communication from “responsible agencies” to address the cost of the damage to his home.

According to Michelle Hanlon, executive director of the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi, if the object is owned by NASA, Otero or his insurance company could make a claim against the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

“It becomes more interesting if it turns out that this material is not originally from the United States,” she told Ars. “If it is a man-made space object that was launched into space by another country, causing damage on Earth, that country will be fully liable to the homeowner for the damage.”

This could be an issue in this case. The batteries were owned by NASA, but they were attached to a launch pallet structure by the Japan Space Agency.

How did this happened

At the time of reentry on March 8, a NASA spokesperson at the Johnson Space Center in Houston said the space agency “conducted a thorough analysis of the debris on the pallet and determined that it will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere harmlessly.” It was the largest object ever thrown from the International Space Station. “We do not expect any part to survive reentry,” NASA said.

However, research from other space experts does not match NASA’s statement. The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research and development center, says the “rule of thumb” is that 20 to 40 percent of the mass of a large object will reach the ground. The exact percentage depends on the design of the item, but these nickel-hydrogen batteries were made of relatively high-density metals.

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