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Falling NASA Satellite Could Spark Stunning Light Show
Space.com ^ | 21 September 2011 | Joe Rao

Posted on 09/22/2011 8:08:34 AM PDT by Windflier

A NASA satellite the size of a school bus is just days away from taking a fiery plunge into Earth’s atmosphere and could set off a dazzling display when it does … if anyone is able to see it.

NASA's 6 ½-ton Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite is due to fall somewhere on Earth Friday (Sept. 23), though exactly where and when remains a mystery.

If you happened to be lucky enough to be within viewing range of a satellite that is re-entering the atmosphere, the sight, put simply, would amount to a short-lived but spectacular fireworks display. Unlike a fireball meteor, whose flight across the sky might take no more than a few seconds, a re-entering satellite’s path usually lasts much longer.

As the satellite descends to an altitude of about 50 miles (80 kilometers), friction with the atmosphere is converted to light and heat. As it moves on a relatively slow – one could almost use the adjective “majestic” – flight across the sky, what is usually seen is a long trail of light and sparks that can take on virtually every color of the rainbow.

Small chunks of the satellite may be seen to break off and trail behind the main body. (NASA expects up to 26 pieces from UARS to survive re-entry and reach the ground.) If the re-entry occurs at night, it could light up the sky with a brilliance that easily rivals the full moon. Even if it occurs during the daytime, the satellite's fiery passage across the sky could be readily seen.

(Excerpt) Read more at space.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: nasa; researchsatellite; satellite; spacejunk; uars
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I'm not buying the statement that NASA doesn't know where this satellite is going to come down.
1 posted on 09/22/2011 8:08:41 AM PDT by Windflier
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To: Windflier

2 posted on 09/22/2011 8:09:55 AM PDT by Bean Counter (Obama got mostly Ds and Fs all through college and law school. Keep repeating it.....)
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To: Windflier

Cicily Alaska.


3 posted on 09/22/2011 8:12:12 AM PDT by cripplecreek (A vote for Amnesty is a vote for a permanent Democrat majority. ..Choose well.)
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To: Windflier

That’s what we need...a nice fireworks show to emphasize the implosion of the economy.


4 posted on 09/22/2011 8:13:28 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand (...then they came for the guitars, and we kicked their sorry faggot asses into the dust)
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To: Windflier
"Lucky enough to be within viewing range" or unlucky enough to be in the impact area?

We are so lucky to have incompetemts in all areas of government.

5 posted on 09/22/2011 8:13:46 AM PDT by Chainmail
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To: Windflier
"Lucky enough to be within viewing range" or unlucky enough to be in the impact area?

We are so lucky to have incompetents in all areas of government.

6 posted on 09/22/2011 8:14:40 AM PDT by Chainmail
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To: Windflier

One night maybe 25 years ago, some friends and I were sitting on the beach at Godderich Ontario overlooking Lake Huron. All of a sudden we saw this huge visual display, something like fireworks, but far too high and distant to be that. We all sat there with dropped jaws saying, “WTF was that?!”

The next day we learned from the news that we had witnessed the re-entry of a Soviet satellite.


7 posted on 09/22/2011 8:17:12 AM PDT by sand lake bar (This bag may be used as a toy)
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To: Windflier

I predict that it will hit one of the Fukushima nuclear power plants.

Let the misinformed anti-nuke Freeper rants begin...


8 posted on 09/22/2011 8:21:06 AM PDT by kidd (S&P gives Obama an 'AA+'...Obama's only published grade)
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To: Windflier
I'm not buying the statement that NASA doesn't know where this satellite is going to come down.

Like everything else in this administration, the results will be "unexpected".
9 posted on 09/22/2011 8:21:06 AM PDT by chrisser (Starve the Monkeys!)
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To: cripplecreek
Cicily Alaska.

Is that a joke, or do you have data on this?

10 posted on 09/22/2011 8:25:15 AM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Windflier
I'm not buying the statement that NASA doesn't know where this satellite is going to come down.

I am. They moved Algor's people from the "AGW" area over to the
tracking and projection area because of the bang up job they did at the former.

That, and it's closer to the Algorsat viewing and storage room.

11 posted on 09/22/2011 8:25:57 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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http://www.heavens-above.com

You can find out if it’s passing over you.


12 posted on 09/22/2011 8:26:01 AM PDT by Rio
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To: Windflier

UARS Mission Updates

http://www.nasa.gov/rss/uars_update.xml

Update #8Thursday, September 22, 2011 4:44 AM
As of 7 a.m. EDT Sept. 22, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 115 mi by 120 mi (185 km by 195 km). Re-entry is expected sometime during the afternoon of Sept. 23, Eastern Daylight Time. The satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any more certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 24 to 36 hours.


13 posted on 09/22/2011 8:28:02 AM PDT by Rio
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To: chrisser
Like everything else in this administration, the results will be "unexpected".

I've got half a mind that this administration is pre-emptively covering their behinds, because NASA's tracking shows this thing is going to come down in a well populated area.

14 posted on 09/22/2011 8:28:36 AM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Windflier

Northern exposure reference.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMlq5IJ265M


15 posted on 09/22/2011 8:30:29 AM PDT by cripplecreek (A vote for Amnesty is a vote for a permanent Democrat majority. ..Choose well.)
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To: Windflier
Use this link (via SpaceWeather.com) for the best guesses on where this thing lands.

In short: they really don't know right now -- the time window is about 4 hours wide, and that's enough for about 3 entire laps around the earth. Almost all heavily populated areas of the world are under those orbits... except North America and India.

16 posted on 09/22/2011 8:31:20 AM PDT by alancarp (Liberals are all for shared pain... until they're included in the pain group.)
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To: Rio
It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any more certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 24 to 36 hours.

Well, that's helpful. Isn't this thing supposed to come down tomorrow?

17 posted on 09/22/2011 8:31:26 AM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Rio
Here's a screen shot of where the orbital track will be at about 3:30pm Eastern Time tomorrow...


18 posted on 09/22/2011 8:33:31 AM PDT by hoagy62 ("Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers”~Sarah Louise Palin)
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To: cripplecreek
Northern exposure reference.

Got it. I'm terrible when it comes to pop trivia. I lost track of that sort of stuff over twenty years ago. Sort of like NASA and their satellite...

19 posted on 09/22/2011 8:33:35 AM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Windflier

“A NASA satellite the size of a school bus” - remember, don’t pass it when the red lights are on.


20 posted on 09/22/2011 8:36:10 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: Rio

Sorry...that should be about 3:10pm Eastern tomorrow.


21 posted on 09/22/2011 8:36:59 AM PDT by hoagy62 ("Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers”~Sarah Louise Palin)
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To: blueunicorn6
It won't still look like this by the time it hits the ground, but...


22 posted on 09/22/2011 8:38:27 AM PDT by alancarp (Liberals are all for shared pain... until they're included in the pain group.)
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To: Windflier
I'm not buying the statement that NASA doesn't know where this satellite is going to come down.

I do. It's uncontrolled.

23 posted on 09/22/2011 8:40:46 AM PDT by 6ppc (It's torch and pitchfork time)
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To: 6ppc

This is as bad as hurricane panic.


24 posted on 09/22/2011 8:51:05 AM PDT by boomop1
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To: Rio

Looks like USA is safe.


25 posted on 09/22/2011 8:51:28 AM PDT by 6ppc (It's torch and pitchfork time)
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To: cripplecreek

Oh, is Maggie dating again? ;)

(Wish someone would start reruns of NE.
Fun show).


26 posted on 09/22/2011 8:52:48 AM PDT by CaptainPhilFan
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To: CaptainPhilFan
Oh, is Maggie dating again? ;)

And she's a Tea Partier.
27 posted on 09/22/2011 8:56:25 AM PDT by cripplecreek (A vote for Amnesty is a vote for a permanent Democrat majority. ..Choose well.)
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To: sand lake bar
The next day we learned from the news that we had witnessed the re-entry of a Soviet satellite.

I was driving through Utah at night and saw that satellite burn through the sky - it took about 4 seconds and my passenger and I had dropped jaws and asked each other "did you see that??".

28 posted on 09/22/2011 8:57:17 AM PDT by corkoman (Steadfast and Loyal)
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To: hoagy62

Thanks.

Without knowing the orbital track, I’ve been thinking the last few days that odds were pretty good it would end up in the South Pacific...


29 posted on 09/22/2011 8:57:17 AM PDT by djf (Buncha sheep: A flock.. Buncha cows: A herd.. Buncha fish: A school.. Buncha baboons: A Congress..)
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To: 6ppc
It's uncontrolled.

I don't know that that's relevant. They have the ability to track the orbit and plot the re-entry vector of any object they can get a fix on.

It seems highly unlikely to me that NASA and NORAD don't have at least an approximate idea of where this thing will come down.

30 posted on 09/22/2011 9:03:47 AM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: blueunicorn6
“A NASA satellite the size of a school bus” - remember, don’t pass it when the red lights are on.

Speaking school buses in orbit, this is an oldie but goodie (caution: some language).

31 posted on 09/22/2011 9:04:19 AM PDT by Disambiguator
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To: alancarp

Thanks, Alan.


32 posted on 09/22/2011 9:05:35 AM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: hoagy62
Heavens-Above was useless for me. Entered NE US coordinates, and they gave me Central European Time or some such. GMT+2. No need to go any further.

(They have been accurate on the SST and ISS in the past.)

Checked it out on Starry Night, and I might be able to see it tonight at ~11:30PM tonight skimming between the Big Dipper and the horizon, but the weather's probably not going to cooperate.

33 posted on 09/22/2011 9:23:56 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: Windflier

My prediction:

East portion of Australia or just offshore of eastern Australia. Watch out islanders!

=8-)


34 posted on 09/22/2011 9:24:10 AM PDT by =8 mrrabbit 8=
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Skylab landed in Australia. Maybe they’ll get UARS, too.


35 posted on 09/22/2011 9:25:57 AM PDT by Rio
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To: hoagy62

Why does it travel up and down in wavy lines like that?


36 posted on 09/22/2011 9:38:45 AM PDT by Mr. K (Palin/Bachman 2012- unbeatable ticket~!!!)
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To: djf

Well, the orbital track I posted is from Friday afternoon. That’s the time frame when NASA says they SO FAR predict when it’s coming down.

When I back up the track, the orbit before the one I posted will take the UARS completely around the southern tip of South America, going nowhere near land, until it crosses eastern Africa at about 2:25pm Eastern. After it exits in north-central Africa near Libya, it’ll cross the Mediterranean, coming near Sicily and southern Italy and then into Eastern Europe. It will then pass into central Russia and over a lot of the ‘Stans’. It will cross Siberia and down the Korean Peninsula and over southern Japan at around 2:55pm Eastern.

After that, it’ll be over the South Pacific (as you thought) until it crosses into South America on the orbit I posted.

One thing to remember: until it gets closer to the actual re-entry time, NASA _SAYS_ they have no idea exactly WHEN it’ll fall. “Friday afternoon” is a fairly nebulous time-frame. Is it EARLY afternoon, LATE afternoon, or what? I just followed the time frame they said and showed the orbital track that will happen in the middle of the afternoon Eastern time in the US.


37 posted on 09/22/2011 9:40:16 AM PDT by hoagy62 ("Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers”~Sarah Louise Palin)
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To: Mr. K
Why does it travel up and down in wavy lines like that?

Look at a globe... and trace your finger where the "wavy line" shows on the map. It's a circle.

38 posted on 09/22/2011 9:41:36 AM PDT by So Cal Rocket (Task 1: Accomplished, Task 2: Hold them Accountable!)
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To: Mr. K

The orbital track appears as a wavy line when projected on a flat map of the world. If you were to project it on a globe, it would appear as a straight line going around in a circle. The reason the track moves eastward over the surface of the Earth is due to the Earth’s rotation. So, if you were to graph it out on a flat map, that’s where you get the wavy line.

I hope that helps.


39 posted on 09/22/2011 9:44:48 AM PDT by hoagy62 ("Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers”~Sarah Louise Palin)
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To: Windflier

You know, I’ve got a bad feeling about this, really, I’m not kidding. I’m almost postive the satellite is going to fall on me. Am I logged in?


40 posted on 09/22/2011 9:46:38 AM PDT by Scythian
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To: Rio

Oh, BTW...I was off by an hour on the time. The track in the screen shot is at 4:30pm Eastern, not 3:30. The time shown in the lower right hand box is my local time, which is Pacific.

Tried to do the time conversion before coffee. Doesn’t work real well. :)


41 posted on 09/22/2011 9:48:47 AM PDT by hoagy62 ("Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers”~Sarah Louise Palin)
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To: Windflier

"Oh My God...They Killed Kenny!"

42 posted on 09/22/2011 9:49:10 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Mr. K
"Why does it travel up and down in wavy lines like that?"

A woman engineer designed the steering system

/ducking...

43 posted on 09/22/2011 9:53:25 AM PDT by Hatteras
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To: Hatteras

Dude...you’re gonna BURN for that one....


44 posted on 09/22/2011 10:08:07 AM PDT by hoagy62 ("Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers”~Sarah Louise Palin)
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To: hoagy62

There is probably a 3 to 6 hour window where it could be earlier or later depending on what position it is in when it first starts to get significant drag...

Is the chart being continuously updated?

(BTW, thanks for the chart. I had searched for one but not found it)


45 posted on 09/22/2011 10:09:19 AM PDT by djf (Buncha sheep: A flock.. Buncha cows: A herd.. Buncha fish: A school.. Buncha baboons: A Congress..)
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To: Scythian
You know, I’ve got a bad feeling about this, really, I’m not kidding. I’m almost postive the satellite is going to fall on me. Am I logged in?

Calm down. Just make sure you have your tin foil hat on all day tomorrow. It will protect you.

46 posted on 09/22/2011 10:13:36 AM PDT by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Windflier

The problem is getting a handle on atmospheric density at the orbital altitude. Since they can’t do a controlled de-orbit burn the satellite is at the mercy of whatever traces of atmosphere exist at it’s current altitude. Without a way to precisely measure that at all points in the orbit, there is no way to precisely determine how much it is slowing it down until after the fact.

They can make estimates based on tracking (which is exactly what they are doing), but cannot tell exactly what part of the orbit, or even exactly which orbit it will give up the ghost and re-enter.


47 posted on 09/22/2011 10:21:00 AM PDT by 6ppc (It's torch and pitchfork time)
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To: Windflier
Just make sure you have your tin foil hat on all day tomorrow. It will protect you.

That plus the fact that the orbit doesn't come anywhere near the US tomorrow.

48 posted on 09/22/2011 10:23:04 AM PDT by 6ppc (It's torch and pitchfork time)
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To: djf

I got the track off a program called ‘Orbitron’. It was designed as freeware by a guy in Poland (of all places). Do a web search for it and you can download it yourself. It’s free and safe for your computer.

The program has a ‘Simulation mode’ where you can predict the future orbital tracks based off current data. That’s what I did by clicking through and advancing the time until tomorrow afternoon.


49 posted on 09/22/2011 10:30:33 AM PDT by hoagy62 ("Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers”~Sarah Louise Palin)
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To: Windflier

wish list for ‘landing’ sites..

mecca tehran pyongyang UN(sorry NY)


50 posted on 09/22/2011 10:42:46 AM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed .. Monthly Donor Onboard .. Obama: Epic Fail or Bust!!!)
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