Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Staying In the Basement Tomorrow

This Could Leave A Mark!

Granted, it's not the potential disaster that was Skylab back in the 70's: a 70-ton space station hurtling back toward earth, spewing refrigerator-sized pieces around like marbles from a wet bag. Then, the fear was palpable: where would it land? How many hundreds (or thousands) would die? Was this the end? As it turned out, the thing crashed somewhere in the middle of Western Australia without any hint of casualties to the wallaby population. We should be so lucky this time.
On Friday...that's tomorrow...the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite makes its re-entry into the earth's atmosphere and will fall in about 26 pieces (how do they KNOW that?) toward some unsuspecting folks minding their own business. Mind you, this is not an unusual phenomenon: scientists reckon something falling from the earth's orbit happens at least once a year. Why haven't I been told?
Anyway, tomorrow's the day, and Mark Matney of NASA's Orbital Debris Team (really? There is a TEAM for this? Is it in a fantasy league?) figures that most chunks of bone-crushing debris will weigh somewhere between 10 pounds and hundreds of pounds. MUCH better than a 70-ton space station, even though the pieces will be falling hundreds (but not thousands) of miles per hour.
To recap: about 3 tons (roughly half) of this thing will come crashing down on our heads tomorrow, and there is no way to predict where it will land until it comes within 50 miles of us, say, ten minutes to get out of the way if it's traveling 600 miles per hour. Fortunately, the pilots who will be flying the nervous skies tomorrow are warned to be on the lookout for something big and mysterious falling toward their aircraft and are reminded to warn the rest of us if they see something like that.
Let's see: fly somewhere or cower in the basement?
Basement it is! Hope you survive!


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