The news the last few days has been some-what dominated by the fact a lump of metal the size of a double-decker bus has been hurtling straight down to our little blue/green rock. Granted, a lot of that would burn up, but oops, some of the half-ton bits would land with a bit of a thump.

NASA gave out various statistics, like the chance of hitting YOU specifically was 1 in 21 trillion, but the odds on hitting ANY person was 1 in 3 thousand and something, but then, as most of the planet is Ocean, it was more likely to land there, and so on and so on.

I can't say I was worried.  Interested, certainly - I thought it would be interesting to see what happened had it landed somewhere with people scattering around like ants. I subscribed to the UARS Re-Entry Twitter feed which had some interesting information, though most of it comprised of numbers that meant sweet FA very little to me.  For instance:

Sat 24 Sep 2011 4:35UT orbit 87.07 mins 123.6 x 128.4km Position 41.3N,24.5W alt=137.7km Unlit [0.08d] ~Reentry-0.6h

Erm, very nice.

What I did find odd was once they "lost" it, it seemed a bit, well... Keystone Cops? Headless Chickens?  After the "Zero Hour" arrived, they knew roughly where it was when it hit the atmosphere. They then said it could be above Canada. Or Africa. Or the Pacific.

Now, to me, that is pretty UNspecific. I mean, Africa and the Pacific are two bloody huge areas of the planet. Canada, too, isn't exactly lacking in the Huge Sodding Land Mass department either.

So the bits that are coming in are half-ton lumps of metal. Not designed, I would imagine, to be invisible to radar. Not designed, I would imagine, to vanish when tracking was needed, and I would also suggest, not designed to land on your head.

With the net of satellites, radar, lidar, and any other *dars out there, was it just me that wondered how they could lose it on re-entry? Am I missing something? Surely something that BIG would be trackable? If there are all these defensive nets around the globe, say for anti-missile defence - then how did no one notice where the Bloody Great Bits of Satellite ended up?

They are now saying they think they landed off the west coast of the USA. Spread, probably, over an 800km strip of ocean. They seemed more impressed that as there were no reports of splattered people/destroyed towns. And fair enough - I think that would have been an interestingly massive legal bill.

Is it just me here? How could they not track huge great satellite-gut-bombs, yet claim they can target, pinpoint, intercept and destroy missiles from hostile countries?

But don't worry - I CANNOT find the source for love nor, money, but somewhere this morning I read that a bigger, tougher satellite is coming down to earth and will hit sometime between October and November. Bigger bits, heavier bits... Oooh it's exciting!

Newer Post Older Post

One Response to “Incoming...”

Adullamite said...

Any chance it could land on the skatepark opposite, between ten or midnight Friday or Saturday?