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Incoming space junk a scientific opportunity

Researchers call it sheer coincidence that a newly discovered piece of space junk is officially designated WT1190F. But the letters in the name, which form the acronym for an unprintable expression of bafflement, are an appropriate fit for an object that is as mysterious as it is unprecedented. Scientists have worked out that WT1190F will plunge to Earth from above the Indian Ocean on 13 November, making it one of the very few space objects whose impact can be accurately predicted. More unusual still, WT1190F was a ‘lost’ piece of space debris orbiting far beyond the Moon, ignored and unidentified, before being glimpsed by a telescope in early October.”

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