From Space Weather:
RE-ENTRY ALERT: NASA reports that UARS, an atmospheric research satellite the size of a small bus, will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on Sept. 23rd plus or minus one day. [AAHHHG! We don’t even know WHEN we’re ALL GOING TO DIE!] The disintegration is expected to produce a fireball that could be visible even in broad daylight. [huge flaming ball of hurtling DDDEATH!] Not all of the spacecraft will burn up in the atmosphere, however; according to a NASA risk assessment, as many as 26 potentially hazardous pieces of debris could be scattered along a ground track some 500 miles long. But where? [We don’t know when or…. where?!?] No one can say. Because of the rapid evolution of UARS’s decaying orbit, the location of the debris zone is not yet known. Stay tuned for improved predictions as the moment of re-entry nears.
On Sept. 15th, astrophotographer Theirry Legault video-recorded the doomed satellite during one of its last passes over France:
“The satellite appears to be tumbling, perhaps because a collision with satellite debris a few years ago,” notes Legault. [junk hitting junk? It’s all so unpredictable!] “The variations in brightness are rapid and easily visible to the human eye.” (Other observers have reported UARS flashes almost as bright as Venus.)
For last-chance sightings of this brightly flashing satellite, please check the Simple Satellite Tracker or download the Satellite Flybys app for your smartphone.
Falling… burning… hurtling… unpredictable killer space bus junk.
Doomed. We’re all doomed.