September 22nd, 2011 09:06 EST
NASA's Atmospheric (UARS) Research Satellite Predicted to Fall to Earth this Week
NASA`s Atmospheric Research Satellite or (UARS) was launched in 1991 to perform research on the ozone layer and chemical compounds in Earth`s upper atmosphere is making a beeline decent towards Earth and is predicted to make impact sometime on Friday somewhere between Northern Canada and South America.
Most of the 6 Â½ ton, bus-sized satellite is expected to survive the white hot temperatures at the atmospheric entry point of Earth and at least 26 pieces are predicted to rain down and make impact.
NASA is predicting that there is a one on thirty-two hundredths of a chance that someone could be struck by one of the falling pieces. Probably would have a better chance of being struck by lightning this weekend than to be hit by one of the pieces of falling debris.
The falling satellite is predicted to make reentry this Friday but in space lingo it is known as Sept 23 or a minus day which means according to NASA by Saturday (Sept. 24), the UARS satellite should slam into Earth`s atmosphere and break apart.
The impact point of Northern Canada and South America basically covers just about the entire planet that is inhabited with higher populations of people. So, within the reentry point of the satellite it is predicted to impact within a 500-mile radius of the predicted impact point. Also, since our planet is covered with about 75-percent water the impact point could be in the ocean somewhere or on a stretch of uninhabited land somewhere in a far off and remote location.
You may want to fire up the grill on Friday night and get that large pair of binoculars out because if the pieces of the satellite do spectators will get very dazzling light shows off the horizon said one NASA official. This would also only happen if you have clear weather on Friday in your area.
As of last Sunday, the satellite was flying in an orbit of about 149 miles above the earth. A few weeks ago earlier this month, the satellite was at an orbit of around 171 miles above the earth. The satellite is around the size of a bus at 35 feet long and about 15 feet wide and has picked up speed the last couple of weeks.
The culprit of the satellite picking on speed and falling faster was due to the increased amount of solar activity last week which solar activity can pull things down from space (aircraft, satellites, etc.) faster than the normal speed it would take for them to fall on their own.
The United States Strategic Command Center stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is watching the satellite closer than a mother hen watches her babies. They will only be able to make a more accurate and pinpointed prediction of where the satellite will land about two-hours before the reentry point and a that they will only be able to pinpoint the impact of the satellite to about 6000 miles in any direction, so there is still the not sure yet " where it will land issue, so keep your eye to the sky and your Nike Tennis shoes on in case you have to run fast out of the way of any falling debris.
The satellite is worth around $750 million dollars and was only supposed to stay launched around three-years back in 1991 but the satellite defied all odds and stayed airborne for about 20 years until now and the newer satellites out today made this one obsolete.
For all you eBay junkies out there, the military is warning that if you do run across any of the debris of the satellite it will be a crime to try to sell any pieces of it on eBay. So, no you won`t be able to make that quick buck.