NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere later today after almost six years of orbiting earth to measure pollution. But now the tables have been turned and huge chunks of metal will be littering Earth. ( I wonder if there’s a satellite that will measure the pollution?)
Although the spacecraft will break into pieces during re-entry, not all of it will burn up in the atmosphere. A more accurate prediction of the location will be possible two hours before the debris is due to land but bookmakers PaddyPower are accepting odds of about 66-to-1 for space debris to land on Ireland.The satellite will not be passing over North America during the time of re-entering and is not likely to fall in Scotland or Argentina.
There are 26 pieces of UARS weighing a total of about 1,100 pounds and some pieces could be the size of a fridge-freezer.
NASA said the odds that a person will be hit by a piece of debris from UARS are about 1 in 3,200. Just in case you see a big, hot chunk of metal falling from the sky the BBC have put together some tips on how to dodge a satellite.
But even if you manage to get through today unscathed by pieces of falling satellite, UARS represents just a fraction of the space debris orbiting our earth. Over 22,000 objects larger than 4 inches are currently tracked by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network. Only about 1,000 of these represent operational spacecraft; the rest are orbital debris. A German satellite with much bigger pieces is due to fall back to earth with a mightier thump later this year.
Apart from space junk, other strange things to fall on land from the heavens above have included insects, frogs and fish. Strong enough winds can create small whirlwinds and mini-tornadoes. When these travel over water small items in their path, such as fish or frogs, may be picked up and carried for up to several miles before being deposited in a hail of fish, frogs or whatever the winds happened to pick up.
A few years ago a hot wind blew over 1000 miles from the Sahara and deposited sand and insects onto our cars.
Humans have sent pests into space, but maybe Rentokil should diversity into extraterrestrial pest control and clean up the space junk.
The chances of being hit are very slim but if you’re worried about being a statistic, real time tracking of UARS is available at Heaven Above.
Those odds seemed low, getting killed by a shark is like 300,000,00 to 1, hitting a hole in one is at 5,000 to 1 or getting hit by lightening is 10,000 to 1. But anyway – hope no gets a knock on their head.
So, where did this satellite finally end up, and who won the betting pool over in ireland ? Does he have all of it hid under his trailer, until the price of Aluminum goes up, or what ?
I’m not sure where this one landed, but when Ground Controllers can steer dying satellites, they usually direct them towards the Pacific North East, in the area of the , a swirling mass of man-made rubbish and plastic as big as a country 🙁
well it seems Nasa’s predictions weren’t very accurate. Last i heard is that there were rumours on Twitter about bits of debris possibly spotted in Canada. i had heard of the strange phenomena of seeing frogs fly from the sky – that would really freak me out!
Having a sea or land creature fall from the sky must be quite a maddening thing, especially if it’s not native to that region. The kind of illogical and seeingly impossible event that really scares the hell out of people! You can forgive ancient/unsuspecting people for thinking the sky was falling or that the Gods were angry!
Indeed, insects and other animals raining down from the sky has caused panic and wide-spread hysteria over the centuries.
In 1894, Jellyfish fell from the sky in Bath, England. Spiders fell out of the sky in Argentina in 2007.
It rained frogs and toads several times in Japan in June 2009 and twice in Hungary in 2010.
Perhaps this is the explanation for many of the myths and legends in the ancient world? Of the 10 Plagues of Egypt in the Bible’s Book of Exodus, this can explain the Plague of Frogs and may have contributed to the Plague of Flies, the Plague of Lice and the Plague of Locusts too!
Am I the only one that finds this just a bit scary, that NASA xcant find this thing.
NASA reports that the only landmass the satellite passed over was Northern Canada and West Africa and there was a 500 mile long debris footprint. No reports of satellite debris have been confirmed. Yet.