EDIT 22:25 GMT: Follow the track of the satellite LIVE here: http://www.heavens-above.com/orbit.aspx?satid=21701&lat=0&lng=0&loc=unspecified&alt=0&tz=cet
A satellite currently the size of a fridge freezer is currently falling to earth and within a couple of hours of this blog post is likely to have already completed it’s re-entry. Nobody knows where it’s going to land but according to the latest estimates, this satellite will be visible from the northern hemisphere, looking south it will probably move across the sky from the right to the left (west to east) at 23:00. Estimates vary, so if you want to see the satellite, go outside somewhere with a clear view to the south and watch from about 10:45 until 11:15.
The UARS satellite completed it’s 14 year mission from 1991 to 2005 and it has been passively orbiting Earth for the past six years. (It was expected to fall back to Earth and burn up back in 2009 or 2010).
Not quite. Neil deGrasse Tyson, scientist & educator says on Twitter:
“Earth, in orbit, plows through several hundred tons of meteors per day. So we’ll all survive Friday’s 6-ton falling satellite” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
The crucial difference here is that this satellite contains many constituent fairly large parts that will easily withstand the re-entry temperatures and will be impact the ground. NASA give odds of the satellite colliding with somebody at 1 in 3000 although they don’t give odds for the satellite parts breaking up and hitting multiple people Fortunately most of the earth is covered in ocean so the satellite parts will likely land there. It wouldn’t be the first that a piece of space junk has hit someone.
The odds, however of the satellite hitting YOU are much smaller – in the magnitude of 1 in many trillion. In the words of the UK’s National Lottery, “It could be you…”
I’ll be outside trying to capture it with my camera
The science obtained from UARS: http://science.nasa.gov/missions/uars/