Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

So the UARS satellite with the decaying orbit is supposed to fall, probably sometime Friday afternoon or evening. Details aren't firm, but the latest estimate puts it into the sea off the coast of Chile. North America, they say, isn't in danger.


Biggest chunk–of which there are supposed to be 26 or so that make it down without burning up on re-entry—about three hundred pounds. 

Three hundred pounds. That could mess up your evening barbecue pretty good if it comes down a little sooner than expected. 

Keep watching the skies. Wear a hat. 

Oh, and if it should start to come down earlier and you find a smoking piece of it down by the bus stop? Don't touch it, they say. Not radioactive or chemically-dangerous, but there could be sharp edges and you might cut yourself. Call your local police if you find any.

I'm serious. They actually said this. Don't touch it, you might cut yourself.

"Look, honey, it's a piece of that satellite! It's probably worth something!"
"You be careful, Waldo."
"What are you talking about, I'll just grab it–OW! OW! I cut off my finger! Ow! Call somebody!"

Geez Louise. 

Wouldn't you love to be the sergeant who gets that call? Or the patrol officer flagged down? 

"Ma'am. What seems to be the problem?"
"There's a piece of a satellite in my flower bed out back."
"Yeah, it's about six inches long. The news said I shouldn't touch it, I might cut myself, I should call the police."
"What, you don't have any gloves? No pliers?"
"No need to get snotty."
"Sorry, ma'am. It could be worse. Your neighbor three doors down? They had a chunk the size of a washtub take out their Volvo. Punched a hole right through the roof, seats, floor, and buried itself five feet deep in the driveway."
"Oh, dear."
"And of course, there's what happened to Waldo, down at the bus stop ..."


Update #10

Fri, 23 Sep 2011 07:45:08 AM PDT

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 100 miles by 105 miles (160 km by 170 km). Re-entry is expected late Friday, Sept. 23, or early Saturday, Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time. Solar activity is no longer the major factor in the satellite’s rate of descent. The satellite’s orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent. There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours.


Dojo Rat said...

Did you ever see the "Northern Exposure" episode where a falling sattellite kills Maggie's (the pilot) boyfriend?

Man and machine melt together and the town has a burial ceremony- hilarious.

One in a long line of Maggie's boyfriends that gets killed...

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, I was a big Northern Exposure fan. Thought Janine Turner was as cute as a bug. She had some plastic surgery done after the show went off, got her lips augmented, smoothed everything, and erased all the character in her face. A shame what actresses do to themselves to get work.

Botox -- injecting a paralytic poison into yourself to get rid of wrinkles? Ick.

Steve Perry said...

Passed over us at 9:17 p.m., but I couldn't see it.