Satellite Could Crash in Amazon

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The Brazilian Space Agency said on Thursday an Italian satellite that was deactivated last year may crash in the Amazon jungle in the coming days.
The agency said Brazilian authorities had been contacted by the Italian Space Agency, which estimated the satellite, the BeppoSAX, was most likely to re-enter orbit on May 1 but could crash to Earth any time between next Tuesday and May 4.

The Brazilian Space Agency said in a statement it was too soon to conclude exactly where the satellite would land, but Brazilian and Italian authorities formed a group to monitor its trajectory over the coming days.

It could also crash to Earth in any of Brazil's Amazon neighbors, such as Venezuela, Colombia or Peru.

The agency said it was also too early to say how much damage the 3,080-pound (1,400-kg) satellite could cause when it crashed, but it was likely to break up into 42 fragments when it entered orbit, according to the Italian Space Agency.

"This re-entry maneuver was expected," said a spokesman for Alenia Aeronautica, a unit of Italy's state defense group Finmeccanica, which built the satellite. He said Italy was responsible for advising countries where it might fall.

If it crashes in Brazil, it will likely be in one of seven states in the Amazon -- the world's largest tropical rain forest, home to up to 30 percent of the planet's animal and plant life and covering an area larger than Western Europe.

The satellite was launched in 1996 to monitor space radiation. It is owned by the state-run Italian Space Agency.
 
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