What gives NASA the right to play Battleship with the USA?
“Uh yeah… we’re pretty sure the UARS satellite will fall in California… or possibly in Nebraska. Maybe. What we can assure you is that it will crash somewhere between Canada and South America. Oh, and that the path of debris will be about 500-miles long.”
B9. D11. J18. You sunk my neighborhood!
“NASA claims the odds are still likely that the satellite will hit the ocean, and even if it were to re-enter over land, it’s highly unlikely to hit people or cause any significant property damage. Although, if you were to be hit by one of the larger of the twenty-six chunks expected to survive re-entry (the largest of which is estimated to be about three-hundred pounds), it’s safe to say UARScrewed.
“According to SPACE.com, the UARS craft is one of the largest to fall back to earth in quite some time; however the occurrence is not exactly rare. About 400 artifacts take the plunge every year. In fact, the problem of “space junk” has reached critical mass. NASA is currently tracking 22,000 pieces of it that are larger than four-inches, and the problem is only growing as objects in the planet’s orbit collide, making many more smaller pieces.
“Because conditions in the atmosphere change so rapidly, it’s difficult to predict where UARS will fall with any certainty until about two hours before re-entry, but if you’re interested in tracking the satellite’s whereabouts, NASA has set up a mission page to allow people to do just that. As of right now, they’re updating weekly, but as the event nears, they will update it daily, and then hourly.
“So if you’re living somewhere on that fated stretch of land between northern Canada and southern South America, you might want to keep your eye on the sky. Or maybe ask the Pope if you can borrow his wheels.”