There’s been some interesting argument about the fall of UARS. There was a video from Okotoks, Canada, purporting to show the UARS satellite coming down. I’ve been participating in a discussion elsewhere on that video and I think I’ve come up with the explanation: it’s a flight of geese. Geese can reflect light from their bellies, and they make quite a ghostly apparition when they do so.
NASA bases its claim that UARS fell in the Pacific ocean on orbital data well before it fell, which is none too reliable, and the fact that no reliable observers in the Pacific Northwest saw it. I was watching with binoculars and knew exactly where and when to look and I saw nothing. However, negative data like this doesn’t tell us that UARS had already come down: UARS was in the earth’s shadow and would have been invisible prior to its fall. Only the incandescent phase would have been visible. So I think that the best overall summary is the statement from a NASA scientist that “we’ll never know”.