Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Sky is Falling

BBC: An out-of-control US spy satellite - possibly the size of small bus - is believed to be plummeting out of its orbit and is expected to crash somewhere on the planet within weeks. But space experts don't believe the rogue satellite poses much of a threat to humankind.

Oh. Good. Pass the butter.

To help us feel better about this news, the European Space Agency adds, "...a spy satellite heading uncontrollably towards Earth is not an uncommon event." It must not be, because a "space debris analyst" is the guy who said it. This is not his blog; that would be too good to be true.

"Normally, when US spy satellites reach the end of their lives, they are disposed of through a controlled re-entry and dumped in the Pacific Ocean, so that no-one can learn their secrets. "
The Atlantic Ocean, of course, is full of cruise ships and U-Boats, so there is no more room.

"But, Dr Jehn says older satellites are often more difficult to de-orbit properly."

"Only ...very heavy objects will survive [re-entry]." Still not feeling better.

"...given that the Earth is so big, the probability in this case that someone will be hit is really remote." If this sounds familiar, it's because you are thinking of Reagan's AIDS policy.

"Officials say they have no idea where it might land but that they are keeping other countries abreast of the situation." We hope they are large and sparseley populated countries. Like... Canada. Not like India, that Skylab fell on. "Days beforehand, police across India's 22 states were put on full alert. "

""It could come down anywhere and it's very difficult to predict," says Esa's Dr Jehn.
"About 24 hours before it hits the ground, we might get a better idea."
You may want to choose your cult group now. Because the 24 hour panic will get crowded.

Group A
Group B
Group C

"Maybe an hour or so beforehand experts might know roughly where the satellite will land - but it is only rough because the line is something like 10,000km long. " Twice the line from California to the New York islands... from the Redwood forest... to the Gulf Stream wa-a-aters....

what was I doing?

"Dr Jehn said that some 10% of the craft could reach the ground, with the rest forming tiny particles in the Earth's atmosphere. He said those pieces would have the same impact as a plane that explodes in the sky scattering debris on the ground. " to wit.

"Experts believe that the most likely scenario is that the pieces will drop into the sea somewhere, given that almost three-quarters of the Earth's surface is covered by water." By "experts," we mean these guys.

"There is the possibility, however, that they could land in Russia or China." Oh, good, those bastards. Oh, wait, are we friends with them now?

"But Dr Jehn, says that while Russia and China would be clearly interested, he wasn't sure how many military secrets they could glean from the charred metal. " Perhaps they will learn our secrets for keeping things in orbit.

If you're wondering how I could be posting this commentary a week before the story was published, it's because I lie.

1 comment:

  1. "If this sounds familiar, it's because you are thinking of Reagan's AIDS policy."

    Still laughing....

    Got your card today.


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