WTF UFO: Unknown Space Object Dubbed WT1190F On Collision Course With Earth

JohnThomas Didymus

A mysterious piece of UFO space debris dubbed WT1190F is on collision course with planet Earth. The UFO is expected to crash into Earth's atmosphere next month.

Although experts have calculated that WT1190F will crash into the Indian Ocean on November 13, they do not know what it is, but they claim that the letters in its name which form the familiar acronym "WTF" are only a coincidence.

Yet, it is an exceptionally apt designation for a mysterious object on collision course with Earth.

Experts calculate that WT1190F, measuring about one to two meters in length, will land in the Indian Ocean, about 40 miles (65km) off the southern coast of Sri Lanka, at about 6:20 UTC on November 13, Nature writes.

Based on its size and properties, astronomers conjecture that WT1190F could be a piece of a recent lunar mission or any of the early missions, such as the 1970s Apollo program missions.

While researchers do not expect the impact of the UFO, only about two meters across, to cause any damage or pose risk to anyone, Gerhard Drolshagen, with the European Space Agency's (ESA) near-Earth objects office in Noordwijk, Netherlands, said ESA astronomers are observing its trajectory very closely because it offers scientists a rare opportunity to study the approach of a space object whose trajectory has been accurately calculated and point of impact with Earth predicted.

Specifically, it gives scientists the opportunity to test-run contingency plans put in place in the event that a potentially dangerous space rock, such as an asteroid, appears suddenly.

WT1190F was first identified in 2012. Limited data about its trajectory was collected at the time. It was rediscovered earlier this month by astronomers with the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Astronomers were puzzled when they first detected the UFO earlier this month. However, they were able to find records of previous observations in 2012 and 2013, which helped them to calculate its trajectory.

The animation below was constructed from a series of images taken by the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope located near the summit of Mauna Kea.

According to Nature, Bill Gray, an astronomy software development expert, who has worked with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to track the UFO, says it appears to be a low-density object -- probably hollow -- with a highly elliptical orbital path that extends beyond the Moon -- about twice the distance between Earth and the Moon at the farthest point of its elliptical orbit.

Indications that it is a hollow object appear to confirm that it is a man-made object, probably a spent rocket stage or shell from a Moon mission.

Gareth Williams, with the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told Nature that astronomers have detected only about 20 man-made objects in distant orbit. Experts are uncertain how many of such objects remain undetected in distant orbit around the Earth and Moon, but it is considered that they are very few. Thus, WT1190F belongs to a category of rare space objects,

According to astronomers with the European Space Agency's near-Earth objects office, most of the object is expected to burn up upon entry into the atmosphere.

And although it remains a puzzle how it came into a collision course with Earth, astronomers are monitoring WT1190F closely, and people are advised to stay away from the area where it is expected to make impact.

[Image via NASA/Wikimedia]