It seems like only yesterday that I was able to tell my kids the fairy tale of Chicken Little. At least I thought it was a fairy tale. Now NASA tells us that their UARS Satellite is doomed to fall to the earth in the next few days. And that is about all they can tell us. They don’t know where or when it will finally hit the earth.
But it is not all bad. For Nerds like myself, this is an adventure. It is like jumping out of a plane. I get to experience science while my very life is at risk. And, if I am lucky enough to get hit by falling space junk, I will have a story to tell like none other.
Today’s list is all about the UARS Satellite and its return to Earth.
1. UARS stands for Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite.
2. The UARS was launched in 1991 (20 years ago). However, it has not been operations for the last 6 years. So far, UARS has been in space 7,315 days.
3. The UARS is 35 feet long, 15 feet in diameter, and weighs 13,000 pounds. That is bigger than a bus.
4. The UARS was designed to measure ozone and chemincals in the Ozone Layer in the atmosphere. It also measures wind speeds and temperatures of the stratosphere.
5. The expected impact area is between the 59 N and the 59 S parallels. That is basically most of the inhabited Earth. As the satellite breaks up in the atmosphere, the debris will be scattered over a 500 mile footprint.
6. NASA is preparing updates periodically to keep the general public informed. Go to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/uars/index.html for more information.
7. Don’t worry. This is a regular occurance. In fact, the Joint Space Operations Center of the U.S. Strategic Command in California tracks space junk full time. But just to be safe, I will be wearing a helmet and carrying my umbrella with me for the next couple of days.
What are you doing to prepare for the UARS’ return to Earth?