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NASA Space Science

New Images of Tumbling US Satellite From Theirry Legaullt 100

Posted by timothy
from the steady-hands dept.
The BBC reports that "An amateur astronomer has recorded images of the out-of-control US satellite as it tumbles back to Earth. Theirry Legault, from Paris, captured the video as the satellite passed over northern France on 15 September. The six-tonne, 20-year-old spacecraft has fallen out of orbit and is expected to crash somewhere on Earth on or around 24 September. The US space agency says the risk to life from the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is 1 in 3,200. Mr Legault, an engineer, used a specially designed camera to record the tumbling satellite through his 14-inch telescope, posting the footage on his Astrophotography website." (Previous, equally impressive work from Legault include his photos of Atlantis's final re-entry and the ISS, sun and moon in one shot.)
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New Images of Tumbling US Satellite From Theirry Legaullt

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  • Re:1 in 3200? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @02:36PM (#37482890) Homepage

    That's still orders of magnitude higher than ANY terrorist threat, why isn't the country in a massive panic?

  • Re:1 in 3200? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @07:10PM (#37485920)

    No human has ever been killed by a meteorite, at least within historical record. The only known case of a death is a dog that was killed in Egypt in the early 20th century by a meteor. The number of known injuries (as with the Alabama woman in 1955) can probably be counted on one hand. It's really an astronomically small possibility that any one person might be killed by a meteorite.

    However, interestingly, your chances of dying from an asteroid strike are actually much higher than many other accidents which have claimed far more lives throughout history. In fact, your chances of dying by asteroid are greater than your chances of dying by terrorist attack, even though no one (known) has ever died by asteroid, while thousands have died from terrosts: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/10/13/death-by-meteorite/ [discovermagazine.com]

    This is because, if a giant asteroid were to strike the earth, it could wipe out a whole city, or even the entire species (depending on the size and speed of the asteroid). This isn't just some vague possibility, it's actually happened before: just ask the dinosaurs. They're all extinct (except for the birds) thanks to a giant asteroid that struck modern-day Mexico. It's only a matter of time before another big one hits, and while we watch its approach (assuming we even see it before it hits us), we'll be kicking ourselves for not developing a program to handle this threat. There's even one asteroid already known, called Apophis, which has made several close approaches. Whether a big one comes in 10 years or 1000, I have no confidence humans will develop the technology in time to counter such a threat.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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