Or at least a 6 ton satellite it falling out of the sky in the coming days.
All this technology we have and they just let satellites fall back to earth. I guess I just assumed with all those space shuttles and rockets going up there over the years they would have just plucked that thing up and brought it back. Or, strapped one of those jet packs on the thing, and sent it on its way. Heck even Astro from the Jetson’s had one of them!
Nearly 7 billion people on the planet and NASA scientists say your chances of getting hit by something from orbit are 1 in 21 trillion, but getting hit by a piece of this thing is 1 in 3,200 give or take. Why the difference I don’t know. I am no expert when it comes to these kinds of things or a scientist.
If my chances of winning the lottery were 1 in 21 trillion I wouldn’t expect to win, but if my chances were 1 in 3,200 I would be a little more tuned into the results.
For some reason the news outlets have been hyping this story up. I don’t expect anything to become of it, but the way they have been writing news stories lately it seems like they want people to be worried and concerned. Then again that is what sells stories and attracts attention.
This thing is simply an Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite which they call UARS for short. It has been in orbit since 1991, and ran out of power or fuel in 2005. That means it has been going around in circles for nearly 6 years, slowly falling back to earth with each pass.
Back in 2005 NASA could have used the remaining fuel to make a safer controlled ditch into the Pacific. Why they didn’t do that at the time is unclear.
Now even though it weighed in at a beefy 6 tons when it was put up there, NASA is expecting up to 1,200 lbs. of debris (metal chunks) to make it down to the surface. That is still a fairly decent chunk that is not expected to burn up on re-entry.
On top of that as of right now they do not know exactly where it will come down, nor can they say exactly when. NASA so far has been providing vague dates and times, which they are revising regularly. The last time I checked the current expectation it will make the plunge is Friday September 23, 2011.
All in all I don’t think it is anything to get worked up about or to lose sleep over. I say Leave it to the conspiracy sites for that. Still it’s not every day that a 6 ton chunk of metal falls out of the sky that we can’t do anything about.
You can check updates from NASA here: