It is highly probable that decommissioned satellite NOAA-16 increased number of space debris. Joint Space Operations Center announced such information on 25 November 2015.

NOAA-16 is one from TIROS weather forecasting satellites, operating under National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA-16 was launched on atop TITAN-II rocket on 21 September 2000. It was remaining operational since March 2001 on 870 km Sun Synchronous Orbit. Its tasks were partially taken over in 2005 by NOAA-18 satellite; in 6 June 2014 after major failure any contact with NOAA-16 was lost. On 25 November 2015 at 8:16 UTC in an orbit of 841 by 857 KM satellite probably broke up. Resulting debris is not threat for any operational satellites (additional post about space debris You can read here).

Designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin Astro, NOAA-16 belonged to whole series of NOAA weather satellites with upgraded onboard devices (other from series were NOAA-15 and NOAA-17). Main onboard devices responsible for weather observation were redesigned. Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) was replaced with AMSU-A and AMSU-B (Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit). Made by Aerojet, AMSU-A and -B were covering 20 channels (instead four in MSU) and had increased power consumption to 125 W. NOAA-16, in the opposition to NOAA-15 and NOAA-17, was not equipped in completing range of AMSU activity HIRS/3 infrared sounders. Another added device was Stratospheric Sounding Unit (SSU) with additional passive microwave instruments. Most important NOAA-16 instrument was AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) radiometer for measuring Earth’s reflectance in five spectral bands. NOAA-16 was utilizing two different downlink systems: for high resolution pictures it was High Resolution Picture Transmission (HRPT) and for low resolution images – Automatic Picture Transmission (APT). APT downlink was unencrypted and could be received on amateur equipment on 137-138 MHz frequency – unfortunately due the satellite’s sensor failure it was not available since 15 November 2000. High resolution pictures were transmitted until 9 November 2010. Upgrading of scientific payload resulted in increasing weight of satellite and necessity of better power source. Satellite weight was at 2231.7 kg (previous versions of NOAA satellites were at 1712.3 kg) and stronger Apogee Kick Motor (AKM) was necessary. Also launch vehicle, Titan-II rocket was equipped in additional solid fueled boosters  and Star-37XFP-ISS expendable launch vehicle. General shape of satellite was changed with additional solar panels (to meet demands of increased power consumption) and antennas. Estimated operational life was two years.