Skip to comments.Falling NASA Satellite Could Spark Stunning Light Show
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 Earths 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 satellites 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 ...
That’s what we need...a nice fireworks show to emphasize the implosion of the economy.
We are so lucky to have incompetemts in all areas of government.
We are so lucky to have incompetents in all areas of government.
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.
I predict that it will hit one of the Fukushima nuclear power plants.
Let the misinformed anti-nuke Freeper rants begin...
Is that a joke, or do you have data on this?
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.
You can find out if it’s passing over you.
UARS Mission Updates
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.
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.
Northern exposure reference.
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.
Well, that's helpful. Isn't this thing supposed to come down tomorrow?
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...
“A NASA satellite the size of a school bus” - remember, don’t pass it when the red lights are on.
Sorry...that should be about 3:10pm Eastern tomorrow.
I do. It's uncontrolled.
This is as bad as hurricane panic.
Looks like USA is safe.
Oh, is Maggie dating again? ;)
(Wish someone would start reruns of NE.
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??".
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...
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.
Speaking school buses in orbit, this is an oldie but goodie (caution: some language).
(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.
East portion of Australia or just offshore of eastern Australia. Watch out islanders!
Skylab landed in Australia. Maybe they’ll get UARS, too.
Why does it travel up and down in wavy lines like that?
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.
Look at a globe... and trace your finger where the "wavy line" shows on the map. It's a circle.
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.
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?
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. :)
"Oh My God...They Killed Kenny!"
A woman engineer designed the steering system
Dude...you’re gonna BURN for that one....
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)
Calm down. Just make sure you have your tin foil hat on all day tomorrow. It will protect you.
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.
That plus the fact that the orbit doesn't come anywhere near the US tomorrow.
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.
wish list for ‘landing’ sites..
mecca tehran pyongyang UN(sorry NY)