September 19th, 2011
01:12 PM ET

Satellite expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere Friday, NASA says

A NASA satellite is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere on or aroundΒ  Friday, September 23, according to NASA officials on Monday.

Re-entry of NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, was originally expected in late September or early October 2011, almost six years after its mission was complete.

"As of Sept. 18, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 133 mi by 149 mi (215 km by 240 km). Re-entry is expected Sept. 23, plus or minus a day," NASA wrote MondayΒ  in an update.

The satellite will break into pieces during re-entry, and not all of it will burn up in the atmosphere. The risk to public safety or property is extremely small, NASA says.

"Since the beginning of the Space Age in the late-1950s, there have been no confirmed reports of an injury resulting from re-entering space objects. Nor is there a record of significant property damage resulting from a satellite re-entry," NASA says.

UARS is 35 feet long, 15 feet in diameter, and weighs 13,000 pounds, according to the satellite's website.

NASA advises that if you find something that may be a piece of UARS, do not touch it and contact local law enforcement.

UARS was originally launched in 1991 and was decommissioned in 2005 after completing its mission. The satellite measured chemical compounds found in the ozone layer, wind and temperature in the stratosphere, and the energy input from the sun, according to NASA.

You can track the movements of UARS here.

For updates, you can follow @CNNLightYears on Twitter.

Post by:
Filed under: In Space • News
soundoff (330 Responses)
  1. hank lechter

    If Hillary Clinton were President, this de-orbit would not be an issue.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Erm, I'm a democrat, BUT...
      You're right. HER hot air would keep it aloft forever!
      Along with the REST of the politicians of the land...

      September 20, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • Georgia Hull

      I agree. Hillary Clinton would have managed things much better. Obama's inexperience shows alot.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Jared

      Personally I think Ralph Nader was the only candidate really prepared for de-orbit type concerns.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  2. Suzanne

    @Andy. I am Christian and The Lord is with me always. When so much has struck a community I think its time to move on coz ur area has become far too active. To all the others in the US.U really know how to whine with wearing hard hats and compensation. Don't ever come to Africa coz here u work and pay taxes on food, road and property. No government medical sort for urself. Live with constant fear being the minority that the hard done by and previously disadvantaged will turn on us. Now we have the mouth piece to stir who wants to march his ppl up to the JSE and demand that the rich white man give them half of what they have there. No clue. So for all u moaners. U come here and I'll run around there seeing if I can actually get hit by something. Anyone that keeps a piece is asking to get some illness that we know nothing of but ur body will metabolise it and it will be deadly and contagious. Stop thinking me and try we. U might get thru ur crises.

    September 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Potentially toxic, yes. Contagious, nope.
      As for the majority of your problems, they're our problems too. The wealthy buy politicians and have their way, hence the current gridlock, between the few of one wealthy special interest group and another.
      Because, after over 27 years of traveling this entire planet, I've long ago learned one thing:
      People are people. Regardless of WHERE they are.
      But, YOU make a foolish mistake. YOU assume school children's comments are the comments of the ADULTS.
      A classic mistake, for much of the world, where the children don't have full access to computers.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  3. Wzrd1

    Verses in the multiverse are not time separated. Only separated, without time, which DEFINES a universe, not the prime frame.

    September 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  4. Amish and Andy

    What about hairy amish women?

    September 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      They've all been fertilized by a Wizard.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  5. Kate Rooney

    I live near Albany NY. In the past month we have had: an earthquake; a hurricane, a tornado (none of which are common around here).. Would not be surprised if we got this too!

    September 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      I'm in Delaware County, PA. All of the same happened here too, just as unusual. THIS will miss US though. πŸ™‚

      September 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  6. ahseemowron

    ...if a tree falls in the forest, is there a sound? ....if a satellite falls in my back yard, would NASA know? (hoping to cut my costs on intalling a swimming pool...) PARTY AT MY HOUSE!!!!!

    September 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      WHY would I want to get into a mud wrestling hole? That's the WORST possible with this satellite. A SMALL one, sufficient for a hog.

      September 19, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • RdWtNBlu

      Wow! Clearly one that knows not how to choose their battles. F Bomb? This poster was being humerous. Even if you thought it wasn't, no need for the vulgarity or put downs. What is going on in your life that is causing you to behave this way? Please seek therapy and DO NOT take innocents out with you! You are the idiot!

      September 20, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  7. Aacon

    I do not know if it is true or not but a friend of mine said his brother found a piece of the space shuttle that last crashed and that he saw his brother put a quarter in his hand with the piece of space shuttle then close his hand then open it like 10 seconds later and the quarter had shrunk to half it`s size.He is not the type to lie so may have been tricked if it did not actually shrink.Hummm...maybe that quarter getting back into circulation is what shrunk the economy. lol. πŸ˜›

    September 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Lumpi3


      September 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  8. 21k

    any chance it will hit a little church in topeka kansas, wbc, maybe sunday morning? would sure make the word a brighter place.

    September 19, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      THAT "church" is a target of opportunity for the local community.
      May I suggest a time honored American custom of tar and feathers?

      September 19, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  9. Steven Magnet


    September 19, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Wzrd1


      September 20, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  10. Fluttershy


    September 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  11. Rarity

    Oh gently please! I don't want to get my new dress dirty!

    September 19, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • Spike

      Don't worry Lady Rarity, I'll protect you!

      September 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  12. Discord


    September 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Pinkie Pie

      Heehehehehehee,*snort* that is sooooooooooooooo not true!

      September 19, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  13. Rainbow Dash

    I'll get rid of that satellite in 10 seconds flat!

    September 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Applejack

      Is that a challenge?

      September 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      It's still up there, you're still a dweeb.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  14. Princess Celestia


    September 19, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Nightmare Moon


      September 19, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Not a problem at all, human.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  15. Applebloom


    September 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • Sweetie Belle

      That is sooooooooo stupid.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
      • Scootaloo

        Your just chicken!

        September 19, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Calling Salvage One, come in, Salvage One. We have a priority mission for you...

      September 19, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Twilight Sparklw

      MY LITTLE PONIES! Your missing the point!

      September 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Can any of you quantum physicists...

      ...ever distinguish between "your" and "you're"? Ever? Even just once? Please. Just once. One little time. I beg of you.

      Like the Jones Soda Whoop Ass dude, restore my faith in humanity.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  16. WhackyWaco

    Did man really land on the moon?

    September 19, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      A bunch of men landed on the moon. I was watching it live when it happened.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
      • suziq

        you mean being filmed on a set in Area 51.....the set was found, and then explain to me how the flag was flying in the wind on the moon???

        September 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  17. us1776

    Hey guys, how about cleaning up your room (SPACE).

    Pretty soon it's going to be dodge-ball up there.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  18. Kyle H. Davis

    They can put a man on the moon following a precise minute by minute schedule, but they cannot pinpoint the reentry of this satellite better than +/1 a DAY? How in the world can they say it is not a safety issue, if they cannot even tell when/where it will come down.

    NASA claims to be tracking hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris... but something the size of FOUR Buick's can't be tracked a little better?

    September 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      OK, how much is the atmosphere to expand in the rest of the week, after two CME's in a month and a bunch of sunspots that are active? Do YOU know?
      Small hint, they're still learning about that stuff.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  19. gluez

    It's time for the world to learn, the "secret code" can achieve a 90% accuracy rate within the oil market. What I'm trying to do is wake you up so that you can see that you can make as much money as you want within the oil market by using the "secret code". So here is the proof, shown live with NO POSSIBLE WAY to fake!! Google Oil Trading Academy to learn more.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Why would we go to an identity theft website?

      September 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Pee Wee Herman

      What if I want a million billion dollars?

      September 20, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Oooooooooo

      A Secret Code. Revealed to tens of millions.

      Yeah, that'll make me money, fer sure!

      September 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  20. gowen

    ...Send a missile up to greet the satellite before it hits the ground like they did with the other one awhile ago.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • NASA_Nerd

      Blowing stuff up in space is not a good idea. It makes thousands of pieces of metal shrapnel that endanger every other thing in space for years to come.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  21. JT

    NASA is nervous because what they claim the satellite is and what it really is are two different things.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • barackobama

      Elvis is really on board, right?

      September 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  22. I prefer poon

    If this hits someone then they officially have the worst luck ever.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • John

      That would be me.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  23. spaceballz

    If there is any justice in this world. it will fall on Bush and Cheney.

    September 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Marty

      Your idiocy is astounding!

      September 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
      • Lumpi3

        Your sister is a mister

        September 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Terry

      No such luck. πŸ™

      September 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  24. b

    what's the chance this thing hits D.C. before they go on ANOTHER break?

    September 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      So, you'd wish to kill off the populace of the city, just to unseat your own government?
      What a true, patriotic American you are!

      September 19, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  25. Dennis

    So long as there isn't a toilet seat....

    September 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Ben

      Nice Dead Like Me reference. πŸ™‚

      September 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
      • spaceballz

        I loved that show..I still watch it in syndication.

        September 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  26. GN

    So, is it safe to fly on Sept 23rd?

    September 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      As safe as it is to fly any other day. Same irradiation, fondling and harassment.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  27. Parrot

    A satellite fell from the sky in Minecraft once. I hit it with my pickaxe and diamonds flew out! 22 of them!

    Hope this is like in Minecraft, but Minecraft is real and this is just phony.

    September 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  28. Armando

    I'm waiting to collect all those pieces and sell it to the Russians or Chinese whoever pays better. What else can I do, I'm unemployed without money.....WWuaaaahhhhhhhhhh

    September 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  29. Bryan

    Most of your comments are simply ignorant. Wise up people. This has happened dozens of times without incident. However the intelligent people comme ting on NASA policies are correct. Having no exit plan for all the objects we send I to orbit is just irresponsible. Although the solution is jumping out at us, I have faith I. The people at NASA. I mean come on, they put a man on the moon. πŸ˜‰

    September 19, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Ooooo, neato!

      It'l be just like the beginning of the '50's War of the Worlds, or The Blob.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      NORMALLY, they'd do another burn and dunk it into the Pacific. Unfortunately, due to solar activity, the atmosphere expanded a LOT more than expected and destabilized a gradually decaying orbit. Even money, the last couple of CME's cooked the circuitry on the bird, killing it totally, so no controlled burn can be performed.
      Fortunately, the world IS 4/5 ocean.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
      • Jack 63

        Wiz when you gonna get it right, earlier you said it was 2/3 ocean? I think your just spouting stats to sound smart.

        September 20, 2011 at 7:55 am |
      • snv

        Can you please share where you received this info about why the satellite crashed. I can only find articles about where and when. I need to cite the cause for a research paper.

        October 10, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  30. BONK!

    What the hail wuz that!, Martha Jean?

    September 19, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  31. Grumpster

    I find a piece, it's on my shelf in a sealed container. Screw sending it back or calling the space debris cops. If this thing falls out of the sky, it's in the public domain and good luck getting any of it back. What about those outside of the US...are the debris cops gonna chase them there? Pheh.

    September 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • ppppppppppth

      Not a scientist but pretty sure the thing absorbed tons of radiation in space so it'd kill u in the long run that's why no touch. My guess..

      September 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      So, you'd put it into a container on a shelf in your home. If it's releasing hydrazine, who cares, right?
      If you've handled all manner of heavy metals, too bad.
      So, tell us, if a US Air Force plane flies overhead and drops an M-2 machine gun onto your property, you think that it now belongs to you?
      Enjoy federal prison!

      September 19, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • BeGentleToAllPpl

      Actually, it is the law that anything belonging to NASA be turned over to them. I too would love to keep something of theirs I found but unfortunately, it is really, really illegal.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  32. shondrapooh

    So if a piece of the satellite hit me or my home and i survied will i get payed for it?

    September 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • M.Patel

      It should be "PAID" and not "PAYED".

      September 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Let's see, media interviews that are paid, book rights, movie rights, personal injury claims, etc. Yes, you'll get paid.
      Maybe enough to learn how to spell in English!

      September 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Idiotfinder

      LOL...Shodndra be gettin payed son...ya herrd

      September 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  33. Derek Jeter

    I've got my glove. I'm ready

    September 19, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  34. joe jones

    "The satellite will break into pieces during re-entry, and not all of it will burn up in the atmosphere. The risk to public safety or property is extremely small, NASA says."
    Not much consolation to a guy if he catches a blazing hot piece of space metal in the head at about 300 mph.

    September 19, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Space nut

      300 mph?????? Try 5 miles per second!!!

      September 19, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
      • Not after...

        plowing through the atmosphere. Joe's estimate is a lot more accurate than yours.

        September 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        If you go to NASA's page, which is referenced in the article, you'd see, SOME components will come in a bit over 14 meters per second, the fastest will come in at 107 meters per second, with a range of velocities and masses for each component. It's on the risk assessment page.

        September 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  35. Rod C. Venger

    NASA advises that if you find something that may be a piece of UARS, do not touch it and contact local law enforcement.

    Give it to the police? Whyfor? When did they become experts on space debis? Dude, if I find a piece of it, it'll be on ebay before the night is out.

    September 19, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Mike


      September 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • tdub

      have fun with the police knocking on your door, any space debri from a NASA owned project is property of NASA, and if you havent seen NASA has no problem in bringing the issue to court.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
      • skipinVegas

        OK, so NASA owns the satellite. So if it lands on my house and does major damage, I can sue NASA. Correct?

        September 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
      • Bammer

        Absolutely, you can sue. Interview with NASA on NPR today.

        September 19, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Joe

      Because it's NASA property, dumbass.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • Andromeda Strain!

      Error: Please type a comment.

      Oh, bloody 'ell, okay, okay. Why can't the Name: (required) be my comment?

      September 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • kake79

      I believe the applicable case law here is the famous case of Finders Keepers v Losers Weepers.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  36. George

    The present calculation for impact of the largest piece, the 300 lb piece, is 17th street in Detroit.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • sam

      I don't think they'll notice.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Gee, I was hoping it was going to hit my boat or car. If the car that got hit by a meteor sold for as much as it did, think how much more one would go with a chunk of satellite sticking out of it! πŸ˜‰
      I'll pay NASA the salvage value of the item, minus decontamination costs. πŸ˜‰
      Oh, I'll donate some small parts of the item for material analysis. πŸ˜€

      September 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  37. Junk yard dog

    If a piece lands on my dog coop it's mine, and NASA you can buy it back. Ha, ha finders keepers lose their weepers.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • YoureADoofus

      Wrong! It remains the property of NASA.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • They can have it...

      when they pry it from my cold... er, sizzling dead hands.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • RGeneration

      No can do...NASA's property ends where my property begins.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  38. Steve

    All satellites should be programmed to burn up after their useful service lives.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      They are, actually. They're programmed to deorbit safely into the ocean.
      BUT, the atmosphere has expanded more than usual, due to solar activity.
      TO judge by the lack of a correction burn to plop it into the Pacific, I'm making the educated guess that they can't wake the computer up on the satellite. Even money, cooked during one of the past few CME's.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  39. Gaddffly

    WOW ! The US Navy is gonna pass on the chance to shoot down another satellite. Oh, I forgot,, this is one of ours not Russian or Chinese. Darn!

    September 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Actually, the US DID shoot down a US satellite. The Chinese shot down a Chinese satellite. But, why interfere with idiocy by introducing silly little things like facts.
      Why NOT shoot it down? MORE space junk flying all over the place is a GREAT idea! How about we launch a shotgun into orbit while we're at it and fire off a box of shells in every direction, just to ensure NOTHING being able to stay in orbit?

      September 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
      • FauxNews

        The shotgun idea is great, it should only take a few of them to generate a domino of debris giving the Earth a ring like Saturn πŸ™‚

        September 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        Faux, eventually, it WOULD turn into a ring. But, not as cool looking.
        Maybe some pellets that fluoresce? πŸ˜‰

        September 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • teabags

      the teabaggers probably think its aliens or something.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  40. David


    September 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  41. JoeSeattle

    Sadly, the odds of it killing someone are not actually all that low. Right now, NASA is reporting about a 1 in 3000 chance it will fall where people will be killed, and they're underestimating. Launching this thing with no plan for controlled de-orbit was incredibly irresponsible.

    Obama owes it to this country to spend the week in close proximity to Biden – it won't do the countrly any good if it hits him and not Biden too (and he picked the guy, so he should take responsibility).

    September 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Ohio

      Perhaps you could be standing close by, as well. For observation and posterity, of course.

      September 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      So, now it's Obama's fault again? Big, bad Obama, with his time machine, going back to 1991!
      I am sponsoring an act of congress requiring an IQ test before a person is permitted to vote.

      September 19, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
      • Al

        It's too bad that a lot of people with high IQs are still lousy voters.

        September 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        Yeah, but it would take the tea party out of the equation quite nicely. πŸ˜€

        September 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • yeltzin

      chicken little was right!

      September 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  42. Jawanny Kink

    Aren't these the same machines that have accidents in their own pants? Scarry.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  43. Brad76

    It better not "land" into a city.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  44. Stevelb1

    The way my week is going, it will fall on my car.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • John Stroud

      If you were having a REALLY bad week you'd be in the car when it hit. Or, then again, maybe not. LOL

      September 19, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Well, considering how much the car that was hit by the meteor sold for, you'd be able to get TWO new cars for the trouble. πŸ™‚

      September 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  45. MadMax

    My uncle is a dealer in used space junk. If anyone finds any fragments, you may contact him and quote a price. He will pay for shipping too.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • fred

      so these mornons (yea, thats you cnn) neglect to say where they think this junk might land. if its water, who cares. just don't want it in my garden or new roof.

      September 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
      • Alana

        If NASA doesn't know where it is expected to land, how can you expect CNN to know? Don't be so quick to call others morons... it only makes you look silly.

        September 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
      • Timetraveler

        I don't think you get much choice in having or not having it land in your garden or on your new roof. If it land in your garden, make a monument out of it and sell tickets.

        September 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
      • Dan Webster

        At least those "mornons" know how to use their spell checker πŸ™‚

        September 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
      • John

        Fred, just take your angry and ignorant rants somewhere else. Or step away form your keyboard, go outside, take a deep breath, and try to find something to appreciate in life.

        September 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
      • Derf

        so these morons (yea, thats you fred) neglect to read the article.

        "As of Sept. 18, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 133 mi by 149 mi (215 km by 240 km). Re-entry is expected Sept. 23, plus or minus a day."

        Now, I know this is subtle, but try and keep up. If they only know the reentry date to plus or minus one day, it stands to reason THAT THEY DON'T KNOW THE EXACT LANDING COORDINATES (apologies to Sam Kinison). What does CNN have to do with that?

        Understand? No, I didn't think so.

        September 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  46. Mahesh

    Oh crap! I thought that the object I fell with a thud in my backyard last year was the remains of this satellite. Maybe it was just a stone my neighbours arrogant son threw in our direction. My bad.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  47. bourbonpirate

    thought he was the hurricane guy but guess he got downgraded to covering something more predictable like satelite's...natural story for him though.. "the sky is falling"....

    September 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  48. Timetraveler

    I'll be looking for the pieces on eBay.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  49. Don_J

    HEY ERIC CANTOR! Look up and smile...

    September 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • sam

      Maybe he should bend over instead.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  50. FatMike

    This just proves my point on the last "space junk" article that came out – and that was – we are going to knock ourselves back to the flintstone age because we are exponentially putting more and more junk up there that will wipe out the comms satellites. All the warfare including missile guidance, atomic timing, and engineered strategic placement of ballistics will also be gone unless they put the satellites further out – past all the floating garbage. This reminds me that we should try to clean up our planet. Do your part.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Bronzebind

      You're right. I should get a truck and tow one of the old Satellites back from space :3.

      But on a serious note, you're right about the congestion of satellites. We practically have our own rings from space junk, not to mention our gross overuse of resources in the USA. We need to follow the corny motto, "Reduce, reuse, recycle".

      September 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
      • Billy

        So the guys stuck up at the space station can grab those pretty solar panels and keep the place warm until the Russians arrive with food? I've been "recycling" solar panels recently myself, only I've just been stealing peoples yard lights. Hey, each one charges a AA battery! You just left it there!

        September 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Jim

      Don't tell the gov't. They will come up with a new satellite with the sole purpose of tracking all the other satellites in orbit.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Thorny

      The comm satellites are 22,300 miles up. This one is about 100 miles up.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  51. Bronzebind

    ...Satellite with deadly virus causes global pandemic. I smell a new Stephen King movie.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Mainer

      Good grief! That means that it will fall in Maine and things will get weird here,...... or at least weirder than normal πŸ˜‰

      September 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • hummmm

      No need to contact Stephen King; see "The Andromeda Strain" by Michael Crighton. The original movie was great and faithful to the book. The remake was crap.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Guest

      Been there, done that....."Andromeda Strain" by Michael Crichton 1969.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  52. Han the Man

    Do not touch it? Forget that, that stuff is valuable! You can sell it on ebay for thousand$

    September 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Spica

      HA!! Not if I get to it first! πŸ˜‰

      September 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Bob Brown

      I think there's a fair chance this thing has a plutonium "battery."

      September 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  53. Zippy

    Obviously, this is a massive coverup by NASA. They don't want us to know about the coming of our overlords from the planet Nibiru. The truth is out there. Wake up America! Remember, everything the gov, Nasa, and the media is a LIE. You can only believe things you read on the internet. Now, I must continue my life's mission of posting this craap on every story that references Nasa or things falling from the sky.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      If sarcasm, I applaud. If not, I pat you on the head and go back to ignoring you.

      September 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  54. lucio perez

    Is there any gas left on that thing so I can use it in my truck? I'm sure that's what happened,that satellite run out of gas and nasa couldn't afford it with the new fuel prices.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  55. Indy guy

    Hey NASA, if this POS lands in my backyard, I'm not calling anyone. I'm keeping it!!

    September 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm |

    Why don't they attach it with a little bit of kite string ???

    September 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  57. chudnofsky

    looks like Wzrd1 and james are trying to figure out who has the bigger calculator here

    September 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Yeah, it's impossible for two professionals to have an intelligent discussion, it has to be some contest, right?
      Sorry, sonny, but not everyone on the planet is an idiot like you, hence we have other interests and expertise and discuss them.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  58. buddget

    Two words, Andromada Strain

    September 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Tom

      Three words: Learn To Spell.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • ge


      September 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  59. John

    What an idiot article. I know that Skylab came down, and it crashed into Australia, mainly. It did damage. Guess these guys don't know how to remember, or calculate the damages from that one.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Han the Man

      NASA got fined by Western Australia for littering too when that happened.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Thorny

      Skylab: 170,000 lbs.
      UARS: 13,000 lbs.

      No damage or injury from SkyLab, but people did find debris in the Outback.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  60. Amanda

    Somewhere, I heard the odds that someone will be hit by a piece of this, and they weren't that small, at least in my mind. Something like 1 in 1500 or something. I don't remember exactly, but nonetheless, WAY better than winning the lottery (though I suppose the odds or for ANYONE being hit rather than our own personal risk)

    September 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • FatMike

      I had heard it was 1 in 38000. Which is like saying if you go to a outdoor music festival – 1 person is going to get hurt. I think we do more damage than that just hurling water bottles at the stage. Of course that doesn't include a gust of wind causing the stage to collapse on the audience!

      September 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
      • Bgrngod

        The math on that one is off a bit. Most likely that 1:38000 chance means there is a 1 in 38,000 that at least one person would be injured by falling satellite bits. Since there are around 7 billion people on the planet, that means a roughly 1:266 trillion chance that any one specific person would get hurt. Otherwise, 1:38000 would mean that around 200k people get hurt every time a satellite falls.

        September 19, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Actually, per the NASA risk assessment, available from the site listed in the story, the risk is 1:3200 for it hitting ANY human. Out of an anticipated 26 components arriving to the ground. Out of those, a dozen wouldn't even leave a bruise.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  61. One Day

    This thing did great research. I wonder where we can access data?

    September 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      From the NASA site in the story, archive or legacy site.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  62. Nisroc

    If i find a piece i would like to know why i cannot touch it? What is NASA hiding? Am I at risk, is there explosives on board, a chemical unknown to man, and alien... FOR %^%$& SAKE WHY SHOULD I NOT TOUCH IT?

    September 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • VoiceofReason

      Probably has asbestos or plutonium, or something else that isnt good for you. Much better that it burns up as it falls to earth and vaporizes that bad stuff so you can breathe it instead...

      September 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
      • James

        Only the interplanetary and deep space missions have Plutonium. I think it's banned internationally for satellites – that we know of.

        September 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Hydrazine, toxic heavy metals, such as beryllium and cadmium and a few other nasty chemicals.
      But, feel free to touch away. Enjoy the toxic experience.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  63. mike

    Why don't they save some fuel or make these things so they can control when and where they come down? It's rolling the dice each time. Sooner or later someone or something is going to get hurt. It seems irresponsible to not maintain enough control of these things to control their re-entry.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • FatMike

      I would prefer we just vaporize all the junk with the new vaporization ray guns that are getting installed on all the new satellites. WHOOPS – now I let the cat out of the bag. I must get off the grid right away so they don't find me. This was a major world secret, and I am privvy to all the world's secrets. Now I have done it. Don't stop believing! Journey.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      They do, normally. However, remember The Dish Network outage? It was out due to a CME hitting the Earth. One of several, this year. All of those sunspots have been heating the upper atmosphere, which added more drag than anticipated.
      Even money, one cooked the computer that controlled the satellite. So, it can't be plopped into the Pacific or Indian ocean, as usually is done.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  64. Dreamer96

    Flashback "Northern Exposure" and another dead boyfriend of Maggie O'Connell and his custom casket...

    September 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Tom in Santa Fe

      Or the girl that got killed by the toilet bowl seat in Dwad Like Me....

      September 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
      • Tom in Santa Fe

        Oops – type-o – I meant "Dead Like Me"

        September 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
      • Leon D

        I saw "D-wad like Me". It was terrible.

        September 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm |

      I Iike Ed ;-D

      September 19, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  65. KindaSorta

    I feel I am in an episode of the Big Bang Theory.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  66. Jerry J. Anderson, CCIE #5000

    The article says "UARS ... weighs 13,000 pounds". Actually, it's in orbit, and thus weightless. It does have mass, though.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      They're just letting you know how much it weighs for when it lands in your living room.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Tard

      Thanks for your mucho inteligent observation there mr 5000.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Me

      Tell that one to your friend. Did he laugh.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • alien1

      Actually it does have weight. It is continually falling to earth due to gravity but its tangential velocity is enough to keep it in the same (or nearly same) orbit. If it didn't have any weight it would just fly off into space.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Han the Man

      Agreed, it still weighs about 95% of 13,000 lbs at 150 miles up. Objects in orbit are moving at a speed where they are like a skydiver in freefall. The skydiver is not weightless, he just feels like he is.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  67. Mike King

    its kinda funny in the video the satalite was right over australia and we just as a country got charged 400 dollars for a fallen satalite not too long ago.. lol .... but why dont we just set a stationary net type deal to collect that orbiting debris and just let it be collected as it makes its path in its orbit

    September 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • VoiceofReason

      Nice thought Mike, but NOTHING stationary is going to collect anything orbiting at 24,000 mph. Your 'net' would become swiss cheeze pretty soon – regardless of what it is made of. Better to manage the 'de-orbiting' with the last of the fuel on board, and put it into the ocean or a desert somewhere.

      Too bad the shuttle is EOL, or they could retrieve it, and bring it back.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  68. PlanetHULK

    I'm going to touch the hell out of it and get really pissed off at dumb people, consequently turning into the HULK and smashing everything in sight! THANKS NASA!! wouldn't like me when I'm angry

    September 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  69. James

    While I am really happy CNN covered this, there are several incorrect statements made in the dialogue. FIrst, the statement "1 in 3,000 chance of hitting any one person" is NOT correct. It is a 1:3,000 chance of hitting A person. The probability of hitting any one person would be at least that number divided by the population located between the equator and +/- 58 degrees – which is a lot. (at least 1:1,500,000,000,000) The odds of winning the powerball are 1: 190,000,000. This means you are 77,000 times more likely to win the powerball than get hit by an object from the UARS re-entry.

    Second, those are not "objects in the atmosphere", but objects in orbit. Since the UARS orbit is highly elliptical (NOT A CIRCLE), and that the atmosphere expands and contracts due to solar weather and even night/day effects, it is extremely difficult to predict when it will decay. They know it is decaying at a higher than expected rate – due to recent solar events swelling the upper atmosphere and increased solar winds. But until it begins a final "terminal" trajectory phase, they can only predict it's re-entry within a couple of hours – and even then it will be a most probable path. Good coverage, but please be careful with the misinformation.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • PlanetHULK


      September 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
      • PlanetHULK

        ....HUK SMASH PUNY NERD!

        September 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        BULK CRUSH scrawny Hulk!

        September 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
      • James

        Yeah, but I'm a well paid space nerd who actually works with this kind of thing πŸ™‚ I'm drivin... they be hatin...

        September 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
      • Bob

        You're just jealous because your dim.

        September 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
      • PlanetHULK

        ...your face is dim! OWWWW now that was a BURN!!!

        September 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        Just wait until 2013-2014, it'll be raining dead birds, due to solar maximum making the Earth's atmosphere swell with pride. πŸ˜‰
        I noticed that the ISS had to do an avoidance burn a while back over this bird. Can't remember what their distance threshold is offhand though.
        I WAS surprised about how much is expected to survive to impact the surface though.

        September 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
      • SCH2011

        Spellchecker Hulk SMASH PlanetHULK>>>>>>>

        September 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Well, TECHNICALLY, it's BOTH in orbit AND in the atmosphere. Not enough for aerodynamics to fully come into play, but enough to introduce drag.
      But, for the rest, you're right on. But, I seem to recall seeing a mention of 1:63000000 odds, due to the long debris path and number of components expected to survive to land.
      The NASA UARS site has some good info on it, to include a FULL risk assessment excerpt (do you REALLY want to see ALL of the math? Me neither).
      THAT all said, perhaps I should call my lawyer and see what the salvage laws are... πŸ˜‰

      September 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
      • James

        Yeah, there's a lot of debate on where exactly the atmosphere begins and ends, but for the purpose of his graphic, I thought it safe to draw the line between terrestrial weather and space weather. Seemed the least controversial. Just looked up the parameters and I was incorrect about the orbit – pretty low eccentricity and essentially LOE now (Apogee is currently 232 km, perogee is 211 km).

        September 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        True. It CAN be confusing, as most of the public don't realize that the atmosphere expands and contracts, not only with day/night cycles, but with solar activity. Fortunately, the sun is fairly calm, this week, so there shouldn't be any sudden surprises.
        I still track space weather by habit, used to have to track it to know if I should be expecting potential outages on our tactical satellite units...

        September 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
      • Tom

        Not to mention that it's hardly an aerodynamic shape and therefore difficult to predict how it will respond when it begins to encounter the atmosphere.

        September 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • carl

      Good job James.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • crookedarm

      Cool odds! I think I'll go play powerball now.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Idiotfinder

      So your saying I have a chance!!!!!?

      September 19, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  70. Badly-Bent

    I doubt that anyone who's been hit by "space debris" lived to tell what happened.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Tard

      I ate a terd off a space burger once.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
      • Me

        Must have made for some nice breath.

        September 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      As no human has ever been injured by space debris in the ENTIRE history of the space program, your comment has absolutely no merit.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  71. sbp

    I say it stays up there until October 21, when it crashed on Harold Camping. Heck, he's got to be right eventually.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Jeff

      Thanks, I just spewed coffee everywhere, LMAO.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Bryan

      LOL...funniest post of the day so far

      September 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • sam

      You win.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  72. El Donkey

    Sounds like an alien invasion to me. LOL

    September 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  73. Samuel R. Preston, III

    With all of these insensitive comments, I can't believe the feelings of the satellite's family have not been considered. Until this has happened to you I would really try to refrain from some of the outright nasty comments. I for one feel very bad about this and will be keeping the satellite and its family in my thoughts over the next few days.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Actually, the family is known as JPL. They issued a public statement, where they were quoted as saying, "Burn, baby, burn!"

      September 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Jeff

      Dang it, thats twice, I need to put the coffe down while I am reading these, hilarious.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • sam

      WBC will protest the crash.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  74. 2 comments

    I have 2 comments:

    First, if this thing falls on me and kiss me, I am going to be pissed
    Second, if it falls near me, I'm not contacting law enforcement. Finders-keepers......that's the rule.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

      Make that, kills me....not kiss me oops!

      September 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  75. PJ

    If they know WHEN, then they've got a good idea of WHERE. Fess up, NASA! WHERE?!!!! Land on Texas 'cause they're already used to brain eating zombie space freaks who eat human flesh and kill and kill again, if Rick Perry and his followers are any indication...

    September 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Johnson

      you know it bro!

      September 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Thorny

      They don't know on which orbit it will finally decay and burn up. If they're off one orbit, the Earth's rotation moves the "entry zone" about 1,500 miles to the west. And that assumes the satellite falls out of orbit at the same point in the orbit, say, not half-an-orbit earlier, or later.

      So, no they don't know exactly when it will de-orbit. Just an approximation to within a few orbits.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  76. The Professor

    I just remembered why this feels so familiar to me. This reminds me of the time SKYLAB crashed to Earth in the Australian outback in 1979. As a joke at work, I bought a used hard-hat and put SKYLAB decals I bought at the JPL gift shop on it.
    I just dug around in the back of my closet and actually found it and put it on. ROFL!
    It's too bad you can't get into JPL anymore to buy stuff like that. Ever since 9-11, they stop everyone on all the access roads even BEFORE you get to the main gate! I think that's sad.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  77. MeteorMan

    Don't touch it?
    You would think the reporter on this story would ask: "Why not? Is it radioactive? "

    September 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      No, it's not radioactive. But, it DOES contain some toxic substances, such as hydrazine.
      Someone ended up in the hospital from fumes, years ago. So, they warn people not to touch it.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • James

      I would be more worried about heavy metals like cadmium, thorium, and other nasties than hydrazine. Most likely, any remaining hydrazine or other volatiles will be gone – unless the tank makes it down without any punctures, which is highly unlikely because of all the connections. Once a puncture occurs, the stuff inside is cooked. Regrdless, I wouldn't mess with it in the open. Properly treated and enclosed, they'll make nice museum peices.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Yakobi.

      I love the smell of hydrazine in the morning. Smells like...bacon!

      September 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  78. vizkr

    No one has been hurt to date...

    Tell that to toilet seat girl... ;-S

    Ok she's fictitious but still...

    September 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  79. Caroline

    What I think is great it based on its location there is a chance it could end up somewhere near N. Korea! I think little Mr. Kim Jong Il might get a little upset by some US Satallite falling in his country.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  80. ChiefGunner

    Kind of funny that the track of this satellite doesn't pass over the country that launched it. No worries that we will be injured by it.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • ChiefGunner

      It's just an "Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite" that happens to fly over countries that aren't exactly friendly to us.....Nothing to see here, move along....

      September 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Actually, if you tracked the orbit, you'd know it DOES pass over the US, from the 24th and 25th, it's over the eastern seaboard.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Thorny

      UARS does in fact pass over the United States. UARS is in an orbit inclined 57 degrees to the equator, which means it passes over all of the Earth's surface between 57 deg. North (Juneau, Alaska) and 57 deg South (Tierra del Fuego).

      September 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Dave

      Actually, it passes regularly over the United States. The orbit precession is approximately 25 degrees per orbit, so the cameras and instruments aboard the satellite can cover pretty much the entire planet in the space of one day (each orbit takes approximately 88 minutes).

      September 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  81. CJ

    Why not use it for "Star Wars" target practice?

    September 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • ChiefGunner

      Because thee is already way too much debris floating around up there. They don't need more.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  82. Jack 63

    When will they learn? Anything we put into orbit will come crashing back to earth eventually. A rule should enacted so that if an object is put into orbit it has enough fuel left onboard at mission end to drive it out into space and not created more clutter or pose any danger to the people here. Hoping it burns up is just piss poor prior planning.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      OK, no more GPS satellites or even geosynchronous satellites, as you've increased the weight of them ten fold with extra fuel.
      THIS was set for a de-orbit burn in 2005 and shut down.
      Stop acting like Chicken Little. Very little will survive to reach the surface of the Earth, of which 2/3 is WATER.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
      • Jack 63

        how is it a 10 fold weight increase? Chances are you dont work for NASA or the aerospace idustry at all. What I proposed was a valid way to minimize space junk and said nothing about permanent orbiting items. BTW earth is 33% land and I wouldnt bet on the odds of 13k lbs burning up much less hitting the 67% of earth water covers.

        September 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        Jack, you want the satellite to reach escape velocity of the Earth AND I assume to be well away from Earth orbit. Hence, I was being highly conservative with a ten fold increase in propellant mass, it would ACTUALLY require MORE fuel to depart the same orbital slot as Earth, hence not enter the atmosphere.
        Low Earth orbital satellites are end of life by a de-orbit burn, which places the satellite into a low, low orbit, to be slowed by the Earth's atmosphere, then a planned reentry is made.
        In this case, that didn't have a chance to happen, due to an increase in solar activity, causing the drag to be quite a great deal higher than anticipated.
        NORMALLY, they have a planned burn to let it impact the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

        September 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Kace

      Umm, you do know it would have to travel 930,000 miles, right? That's the point where the sun's gravity would then pull it in. Anything less than that, and it's coming back to Earth.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
      • Jack 63

        Didnt say it had to be there overnight, thats UPS's job.

        September 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
      • James

        Actually, it takes more energy to put something into the sun than to send it out of the solar system. As strange as that seems, remember that the sun is the center of a gravity well. The energy to place an object at the exact solar terminal trajectory is enourmous. Better to just send it out at the overall gravity well escape velocity – if given the choice.

        September 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Thorny

      Such a rule is now in place. But it wasn't in 1991 when NASA launched UARS. Actually, the rule is that the satellite must be safely disposed of, which usually means dumping it over the remote Pacific Ocean. Sending it to a higher orbit or out into interplanetary space is cost prohibitive.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Me

      Grow up! Cant you find some real injustice to whine about?

      September 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  83. charles

    The zombies are coming!

    September 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  84. Murph

    Not sure why they just don't shoot it down over the pacific?

    September 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • James

      It's too high for that. Debris would splatter across a bunch of currently operating orbits – to include the ISS – and stay for thousands of years. Thanks to China, we lost a significant percentage of useable orbits for the next 10,000 years.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  85. Maryann

    Any chance of allowing it to smash into Washington DC? So we can start all over?

    September 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • crookedarm

      That's funny!!

      September 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  86. Zombies

    Great, so this is how the Mayans saw the end coming. The satellite falls in Jim Bobs back yard, he touches it. He immediately turns into a zombie from irradiated alien bacteria and bites his sister-in-laws twice removed nephew Bechel, who runs screaming into a hostess factory foaming at the mouth. By December 21, 2012 we are all dead from the zombie Apocalypse. Great, thought my day couldn't get any better. Thanks NASA.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • BeerBrewerDan

      Yeah, I saw that laptop commercial too.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • kevin

      awesome movie concept.and, it could be trueeeeeeeeee..muhhahhahaha our evil plan is working, day I-i mean, we, will take over the WORLD!!!!

      September 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • ZombieKiller2012

      Awesome! Bring on the zombie apocalypse...BWAHAHAHAHA

      September 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  87. Jay

    I'm not worried. I have an umbrella.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Wiley Coyote


      September 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Yakobi.

      Did you order it from Acme like Wile E. Coyote?

      September 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  88. fred the stoner

    So.. Was this thing nuclear powered?? If so, it should go very nicely with all the other pollutants in the atmosphere!! Cancer anyone????

    September 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • ndTimmy

      Something about those large solar panels tell me no...

      September 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Thorny

      Solar powered with batteries for orbital night.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Me

      Are you sure that is not "nucular"?

      September 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  89. The Professor

    Was this satellite built with a nuclear reactor for power? Quite a few of them are, and if they fall in a populated area it could pose QUITE the health problem. I'm very curious about that.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Most are NOT. Deep space probes had radioisotope thermal cells, orbital units have solar/battery power.
      This one is solar/battery powered. 3 50 Amp Hour batteries and a large solar panel.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
      • The Professor

        Thanks for the heads up info, Wzrd 1. After looking at those pics and checking out mission files, that's good intel.
        I'm still concerned about the Hydrazine tanks though. I mentioned SKYLAB in another post and how it fell in the Aussie outback almost intact. I believe it WAS a propellant tank or two that made it down, and they weighed hundreds of kilos... quite enough weight to do extreme damage in a populated area.
        CHEERS, MATE!

        September 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        Yep, hydrazine can be nasty stuff. Yet, so many people would try to keep them...
        NASA's UARS site has the risk assessment for the bird coming in. I was a LOT surprised about masses that are anticipated to come in fairly intact.
        But, they WERE planning for it to go in later, solar activity caused the atmosphere to expand and increase drag dramatically. :/

        September 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Thorny

      Generally only some Russian radar spy satellites were nuclear powered. I'm not sure even those are anymore, since advances in solar power since the 1970s.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  90. cartmanrulz

    IF I find the whold damn satelite in my yard im not calling you. What for? It's on my property and you don't need to hide anymore stuff the the american people. Finders keepers B...tches

    September 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  91. Clark Nova

    If I recover a chunk of UARS, it's going on my mantel. I've already paid for it.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Hope it's not a hydrazine tank, you'll kill everyone in your house if any fuel remains and leaks.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
      • Clark Nova

        I'm quite capable of recognizing a more or less intact fuel or oxidizer tank, thank you.

        September 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        If I find an M-4 or M-249 on the side of the road, even though it's on the side of the road, it's stamped US Government.
        Should I keep it? I paid for it. Right?
        But, DO try to take anything belonging to the government "because you paid for it". I'll take that Ma Deuce that I paid for.

        September 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
      • Yakobi.

        Hydrazine is wonderful mixed in mashed potatoes.

        September 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  92. bailoutsos

    "The ISS doesn't actually have any ability to reboost its orbit, so the orbit decays by a few hundred meters every 24 hours whether there are people on board and its powered up or not. It needs to be reboosted by visiting shuttles or Russian Progress supply ships." ----– With the shuttle program gone and Russian cargo ships crashing, the ISS will scatter a lot of debris if not kept in orbit.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Bleh, EVERY space station scattered debris when it finally re-entered the atmosphere. The vast majority of it burns up, the rest is typically so light as to cause no harm. Not to mention, BIG Earth, TINY space station.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
      • VoiceofReason

        Big Earth, tiny ISS – Even tinier people on Earth, and under the ISS.

        Not so worried about it damaging Earth – rather about it damaging one of the carbon-based peeps living ON Earth...

        September 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Thorny

      The International Space Station can and does reboost its orbit periodically. It usually uses the Progress freighter for this purpose, since its own engines in the Zvezda module are normally blocked by the Progress docked at the end. Progress can transfer fuel to Zvezda so Zvezda can use its own engines. Zvezda can also transfer fuel back to Progress to allow Progress to use its engines to boost the Station.

      The European cargo ship ATV can boost the Station's orbit as well, and did last spring.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  93. Todd

    If I find a piece I will touch it and burn myself. Then turn around and sue NASA because there wasn't a warning label that said objects re-entering the earths atmosphere may be extremely hot, do not touch. I will be rich! (That was sarcasm referring to the McDonald's coffee lawsuit someone actually won)

    September 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      Tell me,

      On February 27, 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, ordered a 49-cent cup of coffee from the drive-through window of a local McDonald's restaurant. Liebeck was in the passenger's seat of her Ford Probe, and her grandson Chris parked the car so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. Liebeck placed the coffee cup between her knees and pulled the far side of the lid toward her to remove it. In the process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap.[10] Liebeck was wearing cotton sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin, scalding her thighs, buttocks, and groin.[11] Liebeck was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her skin and lesser burns over sixteen percent.[12] She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting. During this period, Liebeck lost 20 pounds (9 kg, nearly 20% of her body weight), reducing her down to 83 pounds (38 kg).[13] Two years of medical treatment followed. (from everyone's favourite fact source Wikipedia)

      She initially asked for $800 in compesation although she received over $10,000 in medical bills...McD's refused...

      I don't think it's as frivolous as the media made it out to be... IMHO.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
      • I'm The Best!

        That particular Mcy D's had also recieved over 200 complaints about their coffee being too hot because they had removed the safety mechanism from the coffee maker allowing the coffee to get hotter. They claimed it was because most people get it to go and still want it hot when they get to their destination. It was actually a lagit lawsuit if you look into it.

        *in song* THE MORE YOU KNOW!

        September 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
      • Han the Man

        I dont know what she asked for, but she got more then $1 million.

        September 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
      • fimeilleur

        After the appeals were all said and done, she was ultimately awarded $640,000. Subtract from that, her lawyer's salary.

        September 19, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
      • NASA_Nerd

        So, she almost got her $800 after all....

        September 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
      • alex

        I agree, water has a very high specific heat capacity, which means you get a lot of "hot" in a coffee cup full. Plus, older people don't have as good circulation and often don't have much body fat, and burn more easily. Then, she was strapped in by her seat belt, so she couldn't just hop up out of the hot puddle before it had done its burning. Then, some places were making their coffee VERY hot, this McD's sounds like it was one of them. Lastly, 2nd and 3rd degree burns are hard to fake. Skin grafts aren't given for just a little boo-boo. Burns mean infection and even gangrene if not cared for properly and the hospital staff were not going to lose a patient to this. That's right, skin grafts or DEATH BY COFFEE, I don't think this was a frivolous lawsuit at all.

        I personally really REALLY hope this thing lands in the ocean, or in some of that nice Florida swampland that we were all gonna invest in before the real estate bubble popped, or Oh, I know! The nowhere place where they hold Burning Man! That would be cool! Huh-huh-huh-huh-huh ....

        September 20, 2011 at 3:04 am |
      • Kyle H. Davis

        Well, since it has already gone way off topic:

        Sorry, TOTALLY frivolous. While I feel sorry the woman burned herself, it does not detract from normal expectations of what you are buying, and how you would handle it had you done it yourself.

        Do you go up to your coffee maker, turn it off and wait for the coffee to cool to a drinkable temperature before you pour a cup? Or do you do like most every other person on the face of the earth who drinks coffee... pour HOT liquid into a cup, test it and wait for it to cool to your preferred temperature?

        While people have gone back and forth about how McDonalds (and some others) serve coffee hotter than other places, they seem to forget that it is no hotter than it would be if it came right out of your own coffee maker. There IS a reason those things are made out of Pyrex and not regular glass.

        People don't blow on coffee for pleasure... And who has never burned their lips, tongue or mouth on a hot cup of coffee? What do you think it would do to your butt, crotch?? Tickle?

        They keep their coffee temperature as hot, or nearly as hot as it would be if you had just brewed a cup of coffee yourself. Water boils at 212F, and coffee brews at 200F... they served it at 176-194F. McDonald's actually RAISED the high temperature limit over what it was when that woman was burned (190F).

        Out of the 500 MILLION cups of coffee that McDonald's serves each year (in the US), a few hundred (literally) have gone to court saying it was too hot.

        If it was melting through their cups, I could understand. If their cups did not protect you from the heat, I could understand. If their coffee was possessed by alien spirits, conjured up by the executives of McDonalds, to jump out of the cup and burn your bottom... I could understand.

        But, spilling coffee on yourself and expecting anything other than a burn... is simply ignorant.

        September 20, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  94. UARS

    will become OURS.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  95. JH1

    How is it even possible in 2011 that they can't control where this thing re-enters?

    September 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • IDon'tKnow

      what decommissioned means but maybe it's out of juice?

      September 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Tony

      The satellite would not have any fuel left to enable any sort of controlled movement.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Clark Nova

      Because we have no laws or regulations requiring mandatory de-orbiting capability for every orbital launch. Until we do, I think that anything launched without this should be shot down during the boost phase.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
      • Thorny

        We do now. But the rules (treaty) is not retroactive to previously launched satellites.

        September 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Clark Nova

      Who said there's no such thing as a dumb question?

      September 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • rmsbl4

      Maybe the pilot bailed out dummy.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      They fired a deorbit burn in 2005. Increased solar activity swelled the Earth's atmosphere enough to alter its orbit further, decaying it far quicker than planned.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Yakobi.

      Because we're broke.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Lumpi3

      Oh! I forgot. We have perfect technology and responsible governments. Thanks for reminding me.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  96. Marlboro Man

    Donnie Darko.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • NASA_Nerd

      Great reference! A+.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  97. Orange Sunshyne

    Agree. I will keep it.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  98. Hard Hat Man

    So you're saying there's a chance? So, can I take a day or two off from work and stay home with my family until we're sure that this event passes without harming me or my family? Of course, the government will pay me my salary for those two days since they caused this whole debacle. If parts of the satellite do cause issues for people, what is the compensation plan?

    September 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Bob

      So if there is no idea where and when it will hit, why would you stay home with your family? And then to suggest that you should be compensated for missing work until this event passes? Seriously, what is wrong with people.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      What debacle is that? Re-entry of a spent satellite, like THOUSANDS have done already?
      Sorry, the US government doesn't compensate citizens for being stupid.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
      • Han the Man

        Hello! Welfare???

        September 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  99. Chris

    "NASA advises that if you find something that may be a piece of UARS, do not touch it and contact local law enforcement."

    No. I will keep it.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      OK, the last genius that did that spent some time in the hospital for hydrazine exposure. Enjoy your liver damage and later cancer.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
      • Yakobi.

        I make a wicked chicken fried steak using hydrazine.

        September 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
      • Lumpi3

        Since there is no fuel left (or very small amounts), one would think that risk is

        September 22, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  100. chemicalbank

    As if! If I find a piece of it, I'm keeping it.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • ROKWUD

      Don't forget that Stephen King movie where he got that green moss growing'll be sorry.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
      • Phil

        "You can spell that kinda luck B-A-D, Veril luck, always in, always bad."

        September 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
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