Dead Satellite Likely Fell into Pacific Ocean--Maybe

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by MajorDomo, Sep 25, 2011.

  1. MajorDomo

    MajorDomo [H]ard as it Gets

    May 9, 2000
    The U.S. Government is missing a satellite today. They are sure it fell somewhere, but not quite sure exactly where. So if you see something that looks remotely like what you think a piece of satellite junk should look like, please let the government know its whereabouts. :D NASA can hit a speeding comet with a small satellite from millions of miles away, but can’t seem to be able to track a bus-sized falling satellite right over their heads. These guys are good. :D

  2. Major_A

    Major_A [H]ard|Gawd

    Jun 15, 2004
    This is proving to be an embarrassment for the government. They were talking about a laser defense shield in the 80s but we can't track a giant satellite in 2011? Maybe we shouldn't have cut so much of the NASA budget.
  3. compudocs

    compudocs [H]ard|Gawd

    Oct 5, 2009
    No, this is why we cut their budget :)
  4. compudocs

    compudocs [H]ard|Gawd

    Oct 5, 2009
    Wow, this one is kind of sad :( How could they seriously not track this? Doesn't the DOD have systems to track ICBM's yet NO ONE SAW THIS THING ENTER OUR ATMOSPHERE?!?! YEah, I feel better.

    And for those to lazy to go clicky clicky

    NASA's decommissioned 6.3-ton Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, out of gas and out of control after two decades in space, plunged back into the atmosphere early Saturday, heating up, breaking apart, and presumably showering chunks of debris along a 500-mile-long Pacific Ocean impact zone.


    U.S. Strategic Command radar tracking indicated re-entry would occur around 12:16 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) Saturday as the satellite was descending across the Pacific Ocean on a southwest-to-northeast trajectory approaching Canada's west coast. If re-entry occurred on or before the predicted time, any wreckage that survived atmospheric heating almost certainly fell into the Pacific Ocean.

    NASA's derelict Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell to Earth Saturday, presumably into the Pacific Ocean west of Canada. But it's not yet a sure thing.

    (Credit: NASA) "Because we don't know where the re-entry point actually was, we don't know where the debris field might be," said Nicholas Johnson, chief orbital debris scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

    "If the re-entry point was at the (predicted time) of 04:16 GMT, then all that debris wound up in the Pacific Ocean. If the re-entry point occurred earlier than that, practically the entire pass before over water. So the only way debris could have probably reached land would be if the re-entry occurred after 04:16."

    Johnson said amateur satellite watchers in the U.S. northwest and the Canadian southwest were "looking to observe UARS as it came over. Every one of those attempts came up negative. That would suggest that the re-entry did, in fact, occur before it reached the North American coast, which, again, would mean most of this debris fell into the Pacific."

    But it's not yet certain and it's equally possible a delayed re-entry resulted in debris falling somewhere in northern Canada or elsewhere along the trajectory.

    "We may never know," Johnson told reporters in an afternoon teleconference.

    The centerpiece of a $750 million mission, the Upper Atmosphere Research satellite was launched from the shuttle Discovery at 12:23 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) on Sept. 15, 1991. The solar-powered satellite studied a wide variety of atmospheric phenomena, including the depletion of Earth's ozone layer 15 to 30 miles up.

    The long-lived satellite was decommissioned in 2005, and one side of its orbit was lowered using the last of its fuel to hasten re-entry and minimize the chances of orbital collisions that could produce even more orbital debris. No more fuel was available for maneuvering and the satellite's re-entry was "uncontrolled."

    As with all satellites in low-Earth orbit, UARS was a victim of atmospheric drag, the slow but steady reduction in velocity, and thus altitude, caused by flying through the tenuous extreme upper atmosphere at some five miles per second.

    UARS' final trajectory as it neared the discernible atmosphere proved difficult to predict. The descent slowed somewhat Friday, presumably because the spacecraft's orientation changed. As the day wore on, the predicted impact time slipped from Friday afternoon to early Saturday.

    Johnson said falling satellites typically begin breaking up at an altitude of around 50 miles. In the case of UARS, computer analysis indicated about 26 pieces of debris would survive to reach the surface, spread out along a 500-mile-long down-range footprint. Johnson said the heel of the footprint, the area where the lightest debris might fall, is typically 300 miles or so beyond the breakup point.

    But so far, "we've got no reports of anyone seeing anything that we believe are credible," Johnson said.

    Johnson told reporters last week he expected most of the satellite to burn up as it slammed into the dense lower atmosphere at more than 17,000 mph. But computer software used to analyze possible re-entry outcomes predicted 26 pieces of debris would survive to impact the surface, the largest weighing some 330 pounds. Impact velocities were expected to range from 30 mph to 240 mph.

    "We looked at those 26 pieces and how big they are, and we've looked at the fact they can hit anywhere in the world between 57 north and 57 south, and we looked at what the population density of the world is," he said. "Numerically, it comes out to a chance of 1 in 3,200 that one person anywhere in the world might be struck by a piece of debris. Those are obviously very, very low odds that anybody's going to be impacted by this debris."

    For comparison, some 42.5 tons of wreckage from the shuttle Columbia hit the ground in a footprint stretching from central Texas to Louisiana when the orbiter broke apart during re-entry in 2003. No one on the ground was injured and no significant property damage was reported.
  5. ScratchDrive

    ScratchDrive Limp Gawd

    Oct 17, 2005
    See, bunch of hokis pokis nonsense.

    it's only obvious NOBODY was going to get hit, especially after blowing up and burning up
  6. scaarbelly

    scaarbelly [H]ardness Supreme

    Dec 11, 2008
  7. fatman360

    fatman360 n00b

    Apr 10, 2010
    What gets me is this statement,

    It was designed to operate for three years but six of its 10 instruments are still working. It ran out of fuel in 2005.

    If they were still working then why didn't they have a tracking device also built into the satellite that transmitted it's telemetry. Even if it was tumbling as it has reportedly been shown by an amateur astronomers video on YouTube they should still have been able to track it.

    They tracked Skylab till it crashed in the West Australian outback so many years ago, has NASA tracking been really dumbed down ???

    Granted Skylab was a lot bigger but NASA claims or another space agency claims to be able to track and monitor pieces as small as 10cm (4 inches) yet they lost UARS !!!
  8. RacerX27

    RacerX27 Limp Gawd

    Jun 7, 2004
    Whats the best way to keep people from finding it?

    "We have no clue where or when it went down." :)

    Its the weekend I bet they 'find' it Monday. lol

    They don't want anyone getting what did survive, the best way is to say you don't know where it is, to keep everyone from searching.

    Its a theory. :p
  9. Uncle

    Uncle 2[H]4U

    Jun 7, 2004
    Can't get sued if you claim ignorance, just in case that "1 in 3,200" happens.:)
  10. Bamboo

    Bamboo Gawd

    Oct 8, 2004
    This and

    this "Elenin".
  11. silat

    silat [H]Lite

    Apr 18, 2009
    SEPTEMBER 24, 2011 Pat Robertson Says Falling Satellite Means God Thinks Satellites are Gay Warns NASA Against Launching Future Gay Objects

    VIRGINIA BEACH (The Borowitz Report) – Evangelist Pat Robertson sparked controversy in today’s broadcast of his 700 Club program by saying that the NASA satellite that plummeted to Earth did so “because God thinks satellites are gay.”

    “We have to remember that the heavens are where God lives,” Rev. Robertson said during the broadcast. “If we launch something into outer space that God thinks is gay, He’s going to kick it right back to us.”

    Mr. Robertson offered little evidence as to why God might think the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite was gay, but said, “It does have, I believe, a big telescope sticking out of it and I can see why God would not want that in His face.”

    He added that the falling satellite "should serve as a warning to NASA not to launch other gay objects into space."

    The televangelist’s remarks were abruptly cut short when a large piece of metal debris crashed through the roof of his television studio and landed squarely on his head.
  12. CryingGod

    CryingGod 2[H]4U

    Oct 9, 2008
    404 funny not found
  13. jarhead

    jarhead Gawd

    Aug 17, 2002
    Guys, the sky is a pretty big damn place. Systems aimed to pick up ICBM's are targeted at very precise areas. Also, remember, the satellite was put up in the 60's. If NASA was run by idiots, we wouldn't have put a lander on mars, or men on the moon. Seriously, I doubt very much any of you could fathom the mathematics required to track a satellite until it hits the ground.
  14. msny

    msny 2[H]4U

    Sep 5, 2001
    We have 20,000 pieces of space junk floating over our heads.
    There budget was fine and its fine now.

    What goes up must come down, someday,