NASA Says Don't Worry About Falling Satellite

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NASA Says Don't Worry About Falling Satellite

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A 6.5 ton satellite will plummet to Earth some time in the next few months but it is important not to panic.

It's an imperfect world. Satellites fall down all the time. Or at least that's what NASA wants you to believe as the American space agency downplays the imminent descent of UARS - Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. The 35-foot-long, 13,000 pound satellite was launched by the space shuttle Discovery in 1991 to test the composition of gases in the atmosphere. NASA ended UARS' operations on Dec. 14, 2005 and the satellite has been idly wandering the heavens for nearly six years. The plummet to Earth was expected after UARS was placed in a degrading orbit, but NASA wasn't sure when it would actually fall - until today. The satellite will burn up and disintegrate when it enters the atmosphere, but NASA isn't able to predict exactly where on the globe it will touch down. But again, don't worry. There's never been a problem with objects falling from space before.

"The risk to public safety or property is extremely small, and safety is NASA's top priority. Since the beginning of the Space Age in the late-1950s, there have been no confirmed reports of an injury resulting from re-entering space objects. Nor is there a record of significant property damage resulting from a satellite re-entry," NASA stated today.

NASA also said that they will be monitoring the skies and will update the public when they have a better idea where it's going to hit. Not like it really matters, because a 6 ton satellite falling on your head isn't a problem or anything.

Also, NASA said if you do find a piece of metal or debris that just might be a part of the massive UARS satellite, you should under no circumstances touch the object. Call your local law enforcement precinct and an agent, er, friendly neighborhood police officer will come round to quarantine the area and impound your wife and pets.

But again, there's nothing to freak out about here. Everything will be fine.

Source: Space Coalition

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Well, it was nice knowing you all.

Also, telling people to not touch something from space is just going to encourage them to go looking for said debris.

Unless...this is all part of their master plan.

"There's never been a problem with objects falling from space before."

I can think of one. It killed the dinosaurs.

Granted it was not a satellite..

However the Barringer Crater was made by a meteor the size of a small car.

EDIT: wait.. wrong crater... don't remember which one it was, but not the Barringer Crater, that one was caused by a meteorite 50 meters across...

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Basically, just run.

That's ridiculous, I'd SO touch something that fell from space. I'm sure everyone else would as well, I mean come on.

I remember my parents telling me about something like this being announced when they were younger...the public response was to walk around with pots and such on their heads....ung.

If it's going to fall on Ireland i'm gonna be pissed cos i've nowhere to run....

.... *shades* "Just swamp gas folks. Nothing to see here. Move along."

Also
*Poke* *Poke* *Poke*

Snotnarok:
I remember my parents telling me about something like this being announced when they were younger...the public response was to walk around with pots and such on their heads....ung.

Pots? But umbrellas are so much more practical. I mean, it works in cartoons after all right? :P
I think it's funny that they're over-emphasizing that nothing will go wrong and this is all completely safe, it's like they want to jinx themselves to the point where something bad will happen.

"Bob, would you look at that hurtling towards us at an incredibly rapid rate of knots"

"It's okay Fred, NASA told us we have nothing to worry about"

"Right you are Bob, if NASA said we are safe then safe we are"

Splat.......

Nothing to worry about guys. It's just 6.5 ton piece of metal falling from the sky. That never hurt anyone.

Never you mind things like Project Thor.

Yes, kinectic bombardment is essentially dropping things from space, like what's going to happen to this satellite.

Yes, they achieved the equivalent of tactical nuclear strikes with rods roughly the size of telephone poles which, if I remember correctly, weighted nowhere near 6 tons.

Yes, this kind of strike is nigh impossible to defend against since there's no guidance system to jam, it's just something falling, and you can't really intercept it since it's falling at roughly 9 km per second (for comparison a Barrett M82 .50 cal sniper rifle has a muzzle velocity of roughly 853 m per second).

...so I guess what they're saying is something like "don't worry about it, if it lands on you, you're just fucked".

Heads up.

I dont think my insurance covers this..

Greg Tito:
"But again, don't worry. There's never been a problem with objects falling from space before.

say that to the dinosaurs!

Can't predict exactly where it will land? I call bullshit. This thing is on a set orbit, and the laws of physics are being applied constantly. *I* could figure out where it would land if given all the variables NASA knows, why the hell can't the top scientists in the country figure it out?

Less than 35% of Earth's surface is land.
Less than 2% of Earth's land surface is inhabited.
Less than 5% of Earth's inhabited surface area is urban.
Therefore it goes without much restatement that there is a low chance of a satellite hitting that 'target' 0.03% of the surface area.

crystalsnow:
Can't predict exactly where it will land? I call bullshit. This thing is on a set orbit, and the laws of physics are being applied constantly. *I* could figure out where it would land if given all the variables NASA knows, why the hell can't the top scientists in the country figure it out?

Maybe because they stopped caring about it after the program for which the satelite existed, went defunct- and then the only people paying it any mind were space junk tracking organizations, which then have to find it first and the predict its path.

NASA really needs some kind of recycling program. They track where the satellites are after their "missions" are over, why couldn't a shuttle nab it on its way back so they could strip it for parts?

Pardon my ignorance, but wouldn't most of it burn up? Or is it not high enough for that to happen?

Personally, I don't really think there is much to worry about as NASA probably built it to fall apart upon descent.

If only it would "accidentally" fall on Kim Jong Il.

Then again odds are just as good that it would fall on Stephen Colbert.

I blame the Batarians! Don't they know that satellite dumping is deemed a war crime by the interplanetary council? I propose a counter strike into the Terminus systems.

DaxStrife:
NASA really needs some kind of recycling program. They track where the satellites are after their "missions" are over, why couldn't a shuttle nab it on its way back so they could strip it for parts?

You underestimate how expensive every aspect of space travel is, and overestimate the danger space debris presents to the Earth's surface.

35 meters isn't that big in the global scheme of things. the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was 50 times that big

also remember the earth is like 73% water, so i mean chances are it won't even hit anything important

DaxStrife:
NASA really needs some kind of recycling program. They track where the satellites are after their "missions" are over, why couldn't a shuttle nab it on its way back so they could strip it for parts?

Because the shuttles are all museum pieces now.
Besides, there isn't anything on board that's worth the cost of recovering.
They track the defunct objects mainly to make sure they don't hit anything important: the ISS, other satellites, your house...

For irony's sake, it will probably crush some poor lizard to death.

Really people? It took you this long to realise that for an satellite to orbit around earth it need to be under the force of earth gravity else it will just kinda stay idle(or pull towards something else).So of course it will fall down sooner or later unless you give it a boost outwards every now and then ._.

Xan Krieger:
If only it would "accidentally" fall on Kim Jong Il.

I'm sure the Air Force has been begging for permission to do this for years.

Scorched_Cascade:
I blame the Batarians! Don't they know that satellite dumping is deemed a war crime by the interplanetary council? I propose a counter strike into the Terminus systems.

YES! We must alert Cmdr. FemShep Immediately! Assemble the Arcturus fleet!

DaxStrife:
NASA really needs some kind of recycling program. They track where the satellites are after their "missions" are over, why couldn't a shuttle nab it on its way back so they could strip it for parts?

Because we don't use shuttles anymore. Those parts are just metal and it cost 51 million (and counting) to pay Russia to do it for us. we'd be better off leaving it be.

You're not supposed to touch it because it has been in space for a long time, meaning the parts are partially radioactive.

DaxStrife:
NASA really needs some kind of recycling program. They track where the satellites are after their "missions" are over, why couldn't a shuttle nab it on its way back so they could strip it for parts?

This is mentioned every time someone mentions space debree, but here goes

[ youtube=DakRYsUIiIE ]

Don't worry American people. The fiery ball of metal hurtling through the atmosphere is perfectly safe. There is nothing to fear, it will not impact with your house and kill your friends, family, loved ones, your pet cat Suzy and your dog Spot. Jk, jk we're all fucked, especially you Adrian. o.o

If bits land in my yard I'm selling them on eBay or something.

The reason this is perfectly safe can be seen in a past tragedy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Columbia_disaster

The shuttle broke into a large number of pieces and no one died from any of them.

And even then this isn't an example that matches the situation, as Columbia was built with the intent of not falling apart in atmospheric reentry, whereas satellites are pretty much the opposite.

Oh, and remember when Mir was disposed of through atmospheric reentry? Though in that case they planned for it to fall in the sea. But still, no deaths recorded from that crash either, and it was much bigger.

Now, as for why NASA's insisting so much about the safety of the story? If they weren't, don't you think media outlets would be chewing them out about "potential risks"? (And I full well assume a certain Faux Noise will get on that regardless) They mean it when they say it poses no risk to human life, and that insistence is because NASA kind of needs public support to do what it does. Plus as stated earlier, managing space debris beyond the scope of "Will it break something we have functioning up there?" is a pure waste of money, and NASA sure as hell doesn't want to be pressured into using it's razor-thin budget on crap like that.

Jaime_Wolf:

Greg Tito:
It's an imperfect world. Satellites fall down all the time. Or at least that's what NASA wants you to believe

Greg Tito:
Not like it really matters, because a 6 ton satellite falling on your head isn't a problem or anything.

This takes the level of terrible writing and ridiculous spin that's become the norm on the Escapist news stories to an entirely new level.

Satellites don't fall because it's an imperfect world (what the fuck does that even mean?), satellites fall because they're put into orbits where we know they'll fall before we even put them there in the first place. This isn't some strange accident, it's a normal, completely predictable occurrence.

And "that's what NASA wants you to believe"? Are you fucking kidding me? I barely even know how to respond to how asinine that sounds. Satellites fall all the time. Often, you can see them falling. You can see records of the countless satellites that have fallen. You can see the projected dates of when a lot of satellites will fall.

The second quote really drives home the lengths contributors are willing to go to to drive interest in an article. I'm assuming here that it's an attempt at baiting for pageviews since the alternative, that the contributor is actually that ignorant about a topic he's reporting on, is not a possibility I really wish to entertain.

The reality of the situation: they can make a relatively strong prediction about where it will land (protip: this is not a "simple physics calculation" based on its trajectory since the real world involves messy things like aerodynamics and we're talking about speeds and distances where a small change can have a big impact on the location of the crash site), the overwhelming majority of it will fall apart and burn up in atmosphere (which is the most immediate reason, though not the only reason by any means, why the second quote is so absolutely absurd), there has never been a recorded instance of falling space debris causing any serious damage, the chance of the debris hitting property or people is already absurdly low even if it didn't fall apart and burn up in atmosphere, they can make very robust predictions about when it will land (projections were surely made before the satellite was even sent up), and no, there isn't really any reasonable solution to letting satellites crash (the cost of bringing a satellite back during a shuttle mission would outstrip the gain in recycling the parts by several orders of magnitude).

TL;DR: Greg Tito, you should be fired. And then your name, aliases, and picture should be spread far and wide to all news outlets such that you never contribute another article this blatantly misleading and/or stupid.

If you come to the Escapist for serious news, you have problems.

Jaime_Wolf:
SNip

while i agree...im just gonna say this...you just bashed an escapist news guy...you have a 90% chance of banning :C

Sounds fun terrifying.

I just hope that this doesn't land near where I live.
If it does...well...I'm gonna have to touch it.
Also:

Kl4pp5tuhl:
You're not supposed to touch it because it has been in space for a long time, meaning the parts are partially radioactive.

DaxStrife:
NASA really needs some kind of recycling program. They track where the satellites are after their "missions" are over, why couldn't a shuttle nab it on its way back so they could strip it for parts?

This is mentioned every time someone mentions space debree, but here goes

Fixed the video for everyone!

I'm old enough to remember Skylab coming back down, now that was something to worry about. The thing weighed 77 tons. So pah 6.5 tons I sneeze in your general direction.

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