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!”


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  • So it could hit south Fermangh in the early hours of the morning.

    Well, at least we will all be asleep and wont know what hit us, if it does.

  • Rory Carr

    “There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States…”

    Thank God ! I was up all night worrying. Imagine if it landed in Alaska and disarranged Sarah Palin’s hair-do.

  • Into the west

    Projected to clip holyhead at 2:31am
    peteb shouldn’t someone inform the irish travellers?

  • Are we dead yet?

  • Zig70

    “The satellite was passing eastward over Canada and Africa as well as vast portions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans during that period. The precise re-entry time and location are not yet known with certainty.”

    That’s NASA precision for you. Divining rods anyone?

  • Apparently it fell in Canada. I heard a large bang which woke me in the middle of the night. Waiting for light now, to go out and have a look around.

  • Cynic2

    Damn. Nothing here so no chance to sue.

  • There have been quite a few hoaxes about where it fell including some Canadian ones. NASA still don’t know where. The noise I heard was my mailbox being bashed by some hooligans. It happens every year or two.

  • tuatha

    Oz is really pissed off – they still have Skylab in a pay-for-view museum.