Friday, September 23, 2011

UARS Satellite Coming Down!


It's Duck-and-Cover time, folks, as a big piece of space junk is headed our way and just may hit someone! Sure, the chances of it hitting YOU in particular are about 1 in a trillion, but hey, you're on the planet, aintcha?

UARS in orbit.

NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected now to re-enter the atmosphere sometime late Friday the 23rd or early Saturday the 24th. As the trajectory becomes more clear, it seems that we Americans may be in it's probable fall zone. That zone could be an estimated 500 miles long.

UARS has had a good life, performing its research since 1991 in orbit of the Earth. It's a big boy, though, about 6.5 tons and the size of a school bus (why are things always related to the size of a bus or Rhode Island?) and it won't all burn up during re-entry. Scientists have estimated that about 26 pieces will survive to land on the ground. The fall through the atmosphere will cool the pieces so it shouldn't be hot when it lands. However, there are some coolants and reactants that could be harmful to human flesh so if you should find a piece, don't touch it(!) but rather notify local police and take lots of awesome pictures.

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