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South Koreans warned they could be hit by debris from an old NASA satellite.

Published: 2023-01-10

South Koreans, who often receive mobile alerts about earthquakes and COVID outbreaks, this time got acquainted with a more unusual, but no less dire warning. On Monday morning, they were told that this time the danger could literally come from the sky - it is possible that the remnants of an old NASA satellite will fall into the country.

South Korea's Ministry of Science and Information Technology issued a nationwide alert that "some debris from an infalling US satellite may fall near the Korean Peninsula" around lunchtime. Residents of the country were asked to be careful when leaving their homes.

However, the ministry later released a statement saying that the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, which has been in orbit for nearly 40 years, appears to have passed over the Korean peninsula and there is no evidence of damage.

NASA said last week that the 2,450 kg satellite is likely to enter the atmosphere on Sunday or Monday, and while most of it was expected to burn up in the atmosphere, it was possible that some of the debris would fall back to Earth. NASA said the risk of harm to anyone on the planet is "very low." However, in South Korea, they nevertheless decided to use their mass notification system to send a warning to the inhabitants of the country.

Most man-made fragments from space that fall to Earth pose little danger to humans. However, exceptions can be cases like the uncontrolled fall last year of Chinese rocket stages used to build an orbital station.