Beware falling objects which, ironically, could show up on the first day of fall. The sky’s not falling, but a NASA satellite is plummeting toward Earth and could arrive as early as Thursday, it was reported today.
What more memorable way to observe the beginning of fall, than to get hit by a six-ton piece of metal.
NASA scientists are doing their best to tell us where a plummeting satellite will fall later this week. It’s just that if they’re off a little bit, it could mean the difference between hitting Florida or landing on New York. Or, say, Iran or India.
Pinpointing where and when hurtling space debris will strike is an imprecise science. For now, scientists predict the earliest it will hit is Thursday U.S. time, the latest Saturday.
The satellite is expected to break into pieces, and scientists put the odds of it hitting someone at 1-in-3,200. As far as anyone knows, falling space debris has never injured anyone. Nor has significant property damage been reported. That’s because most of the planet is covered in water and there are vast regions of empty land.
If you do come across what you suspect is a satellite piece, NASA doesn’t want you to pick it up. The space agency says there are no toxic chemicals present, but there could be sharp edges. Also, it’s government property. It’s against the law to keep it as a souvenir or sell it on eBay. NASA’s advice is to report it to the police.
The 20-year-old research satellite is expected to break into more than 100 pieces as it enters the atmosphere, most of it burning up. Twenty-six of the heaviest metal parts are expected to reach Earth, the biggest chunk weighing about 300 pounds. The debris could be scattered over an area about 500 miles long.