On a day when the world is watching out for a falling satellite that could impact anywhere, a small town in Wisconsin has already experienced this rare event.

A Satellite is Expected to Crash to Earth Today

After over 15 years in space, a satellite the size of a school bus from the European Space Agency is hurdling uncontrollably towards earth and is expected to reenter Earth's atmosphere today. Experts expect most of the 2.5-ton satellite to burn up during reentry, but some chunks could make it through, and chances are good that those will crash harmlessly into the ocean.

Google Maps / Canva
Google Maps / Canva

When Did a Satellite Crash in Wisconsin?

While rare, satellite crashes on land can happen, just ask Manitowoc, WI. Back on September 5, 1962, a small 20 by 8 cm piece of the Russian-made Sputnik IV satellite slammed about 3 inches into a paved road near the Rahr-West Art Museum, some additional charred fragments of the spacecraft were found on the roof of a nearby church.

According to the Rahr-West Art Museum, who has a webpage dedicated to this incident, "when the fragment was first offered to the Soviets, they declined its return, but eventually accepted the piece in a quiet ceremony."

Google Maps / Canva
Google Maps / Canva

Can I See the Impact Spot Today?

You can see the spot where the piece of Sputnik hit if you visit Manitowoc, there is a plaque near the impact site, and the exact spot where the crash happened is permanently marked on North 8th Street with a small metal ring in the pavement. In 1963 the town was gifted two replicas of Sputnik IV that were made by NASA.

Manitowoc celebrates the impact each year with Sputnikfest, a one-day event with a variety of events including a parade, live music, space art and more.

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