Mind your heads…

I did warn you…  Just about everyone’s now covering the falling UARS satellite – that’s the 5 tonne, 20-year-old UARS satellite.  Nasa has further refined their estimate of when it will come down.

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 100 miles by 105 miles (160 km by 170 km). Re-entry is expected late Friday, Sept. 23, or early Saturday, Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time.  Solar activity is no longer the major factor in the satellite’s rate of descent. The satellite’s orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent. There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours.

Eastern Daylight Time is 5 hours behind British Summer Time [BST].  I think the latest update came after the Guardian’s Ian Sample interpretion of the estimate as “between 5pm Friday and 5am Saturday British Summer Time”.  It probably pushes the window back by a number of hours.

Astrophotographer Thierry Legault, whose images I’ve noted before, has captured amazing footage of the tumbling satellite.

And Astronomy Ireland have calculated the potential re-entry path of UARS passes over Ireland and the UK for 2.31am on Saturday 24th.

Gulp.  I think we’ll be ok…  As the Guardian’s Pass Notes, No 3,048: UARS said 

Do say: “If the odds of it hitting someone are one in 3,200, then the odds of it hitting someone who’s wearing a tinfoil hat will be even slimmer.”

Don’t say: “Please don’t let me die – I’ve got a ticket for this week’s EuroMillions!”