As you may have heard, the UARS satellite, first put in orbit in 1991, will be coming out of orbit on Friday. The satellite, which weighs 6.5 tons and is about the size of a school bus, will burn up on re-entry… mostly. NASA scientists speculate that approximately 26 pieces of debris will survive re-entry and WILL HIT THE EARTH AT 18,000 MILES FLAMING, SCREAMING, METALLIC MILES PER HOUR. Pish-posh you say? 26 splashes in the ocean off Cape Canaveral? Well, the scientists can only narrow down the area of impact to somewhere between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south, which is, approximately EVERYWHERE.
Obviously, you could consult one of any number of government sites to get so-called “reliable” information about what to expect on Friday, but for your convenience and horror, I’ve provided this handy, informative Q & A. You are ever so welcome.
“Friday.” That’s pretty vague. Can you be more specific when this will happen?
I could. But let’s say I tell you, “Oh, around 3:00.” Then, 3:05 you think you’re in the clear and then POW POW POW POW! Wrong time zone! Debris got a late start! Who knows? No, better to just start worrying around Thursday afternoon.
What are the actual statistical odds of being hit by falling space debris?
I’m not a mathematician, but given that there are 26 pieces of debris, and only 24 time zones in the world, I’d say you, personally, have about a 78% chance of being stricken by at least one piece of debris.
Does this have anything to do with NASA’s funding being reduced?
Definitely. Oh, they “say” it’s a coincidence, but you can tell it’s malicious through subtle cues in the NASA statements regarding the situation, such as the use of the words “penny-pinching,” “karma,” “sons-a-bitches” and the oddly unscientific inclusion of the description of the falling debris as “raining down upon your guilty heads like the vengeful fires of God’s infinite wrath.”
Should I panic?
How many people have been killed by falling space-debris?
Okay, well, none, if you want to get specific. But people have been hit before. Well, at least one. I heard an interview with her this morning on the radio.
Is it true she referred to being hit by flaming satellite debris as “one of” the strangest things that’s ever happened to her?
Yes. What’s up with that? I mean, what’s the strangest thing? Did Bigfoot punch her in the face? Does she time-travel?
Is there anything I can do to lower my chances of being hit?
There are a few things that might help. Consider the following:
- Try faking a limp and saying loudly, “Boy howdy, the old space-debris injury sure is acting up today.” The odds of being hit by falling satellite debris twice have got to be just unbelievably slim.
- Avoid standing still on Friday. Just keep moving all the time. Serpentine, serpentine. All day. Serpentine.
- If you’ve ever talked smack about the Space Program or employees of NASA, now might be a good time to apologize.
- If Friday you are one day until retirement, or have a winning lottery ticket, you’re as good as squished. It’s known as “Ironic Death Syndrome.” Sorry.
- Avoid areas where people are having conversations like, “Hey! A shooting star! In the middle of the day! Make a wish! Ooh, it’s getting bigger; make a big wish. Bigger. Bigger…”
- Cover yourself in a thick, thick coating of lard. Unless the debris hits you at a direct angle, it’ll slide right off!
- Surround yourself with people, but think 3-dimensionally. A human shield is useless unless you put people on top as well. Perhaps Friday’s the day to try that huge human pyramid!