Sunday, November 10, 2013

A 2,000 pound satellite will crash to Earth today

by +Alexa Rankin

Don't look up today, a twist of irony means that a 2,000 pound satellite may land on your head. It's true that nature does have a sense of humor and someone somewhere will get a first hand demonstration sometime today. I am sorry I can't be more specific but the exact time and impact area have not yet been calculated.

The GOCE satellite
An artists impression of a 2000 lb chunk of space debris
The GOCE satellite was launched in early 2009 in order to study the Earth's gravitational field and now that it has run out of fuel it is being pulled back down to Earth by...GRAVITY. How embarrassing for the European Space Agency, who really didn't think this one through.

Since the launch of GOCE, the rules about launching big metal objects into space has changed. Now you need to have a backup booster to use in the event that the big metal object returns to Earth so that you can guide it to an uninhabited part of the planet. Even though 70% of the Earth's surface is water and less than half of the remaining 30% is actually occupied by humans, that is still a 1.5 in 10 chance of human casualty.

Scientists strongly believe that the satellite will begin to break up into smaller pieces as it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere, many of those pieces should burn up harmlessly, but chunks weighing as much as 200 lbs could actually make it through and crash land back on Earth.

What a 200 pound satellite chunk could do
What a 200 pound satellite chunk could do
According to statistical data, there are no recorded instances of any human injury due to falling space debris, but if you should happen to be the unlucky one, international space debris laws firmly point the finger of blame at the country who initially launched the object. i.e. who pulled the trigger to fire the 2,000 pound bullet. In this instance, you should direct your insurance claim to Russia.

Please let us know if you or someone you know gets hit by a satellite chunk today.

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