By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Two satellites are set to nearly collide over the U.S. city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and are expected to come within just 12 meters (39 feet) of one another Wednesday, according to an organization that tracks space debris.
The near-miss of the defunct GGSE-4 and IRAS satellites was expected to occur some 900 meters (2,952 feet) above the city at about 6:39 p.m. local time, according to LeoLabs, which placed the odds of a collision at 1 in 100.
The organization increased its risk of a collision from earlier models that showed it at 1 in 1000 because it said the GGSE-4 has a deployed 18-meter (59-foot) boom, and its location relative to the other satellite is not clear. The risk of collision could be as low as 1 in 20 depending on the boom's location.
"Though it is still unlikely that these objects will collide, we have tasked our radars to schedule longer duration tracking on both objects following the event to search for evidence of any new debris (and hopefully not find any!)," the group said in a series of tweets.
IRAS is a decommissioned space telescope launched in 1983 while GGSE-4 is what LeoLabs calls "an experimental U.S. payload" that was launched in 1967.