Canada Hit!

Remember the falling satellite? Well, Nasa has confirmed that debris the from six-ton satellite crashed back to Earth mostly in Canada. The Telegraph reports:

The American space agency said decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11.23pm and 1.09am on Saturday morning (3.23am GMT to 5.09am GMT).

Tracking of the satellite, which broke up during its re-entry through the atmosphere, showed it was passing eastwards over Canada and areas of open ocean.

Nasa said it was still trying to determine the precise re-entry time and location. Unconfirmed reports on Twitter suggested some of the debris may have fallen near a town south of Calgary in western Canada…

Most of the satellite was expected to have burned up during re-entry but 26 fragments weighing up to half a tonne in total are expected to hit the Earth’s surface.

Officials said the risk to the public from the satellite was very remote…

Mark Matney, an orbital debris scientist at Nasa, said: “In the entire 50 plus year history of the space program, no person has ever been injured by a piece of re-entering space debris.

“Keep in mind we have bits of debris re-entering the atmosphere every single day.” The US Department of Defence and Nasa were tracking the debris. The US Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice to pilots and flight crews of the potential hazard, and urged them to report any falling space debris and take note of its position and time…

The surviving chunks of the UARS satellite are likely to include titanium fuel tanks, beryllium housing and stainless steel batteries and wheel rims.

Nasa added: “Pieces of UARS landing on Earth will not be very hot. Heating stops 20 miles up, and it cools after that.” Any surviving wreckage belongs to Nasa, and it is against the law to keep or sell even the smallest piece.

There space said sharp edges could be dangerous and warned people not to pick up pieces if they find them, urging them to contact local law enforcement authorities instead.

Canadians: For goodness sake, just leave the stuff alone! Heaven forbid you may just cut yourselves, or worse, catch some sort of weird space alien sickness. Dialing 911 (you have 911 don’t you?) on your telephone is the fastest way you will get help when confronted with this dangerous, fallen space litter!



Watch Out For Falling Space Junk!

In the next couple of weeks. Seriously – that’s if you stay between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south of the Equator:

A six tonne Nasa satellite is set to fall uncontrolled out of orbit, potentially raining debris over swathes of the planet including Britain, the US space agency has admitted.

The $750 million (£468 million) Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) satellite, launched 20 years ago to study climate change, is set to breach the atmosphere within weeks.

In a new alert issued this week, officials warned pieces could land in densely populated areas on six continents including parts of Britain, Europe, North and South America and Asia.

Nasa claimed the risk to public safety from the “dead” satellite – which is orbiting just over 155 miles above the earth with an inclination of 57 degrees – was “extremely small”.

But senior space agency officials admitted they were “concerned” about the risk to billions of people when it starts falling uncontrolled out of orbit at any stage from later this month.

Nasa admitted more than half a tonne of metal from the satellite, which ran out of fuel in 2005, will survive as the majority it will burn up after entering Earth’s atmosphere.

Scientists estimate the debris footprint will be about 500 miles long with a 1-in-3,200 chance a part a satellite part could hit someone.

While Nasa did not know the exact areas it will fall, the projected danger zone has been narrowed to areas between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south of the Equator.

These areas cover six continents and billions of people and three oceans…

Rest here.

Bible Archaeology

Egyptian Pyramids Found by Infra-red Satellite Images


Seventeen lost pyramids are among the buildings identified in a new satellite survey of Egypt.

More than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements were also revealed by looking at infra-red images which show up underground buildings.

Initial excavations have already confirmed some of the findings, including two suspected pyramids.

The work has been pioneered at the University of Alabama at Birmingham by US Egyptologist Dr Sarah Parcak.

She says she was amazed at how much she and her team has found.

“We were very intensely doing this research for over a year. I could see the data as it was emerging, but for me the “Aha!” moment was when I could step back and look at everything that we’d found and I couldn’t believe we could locate so many sites all over Egypt.

“To excavate a pyramid is the dream of every archaeologist,” she said.

The team analysed images from satellites orbiting 700km above the earth, equipped with cameras so powerful they can pin-point objects less than 1m in diameter on the earth’s surface.

Infra-red imaging was used to highlight different materials under the surface…

More here.

Interesting stuff. It may hold some promise for other archaeological sites.


Japan Reactor Crisis: Satellite Pictures Reveal Damage

National Geographic has them:

A plume of white steam billows from ruined reactor 3 (the second structure from the left) at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, as seen in a Wednesday satellite image—two days after an explosion blew the roof off the unit’s secondary containment building.

Varying levels of damage are visible in the all four reactor units at left, while the two tall white rectangular structures at right, reactor buildings 5 and 6, remain intact.

Authorities on site are resorting to ever more desperate measures to quell the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, which began after Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami resulted in loss of power to the generating station’s crucial cooling systems.

To avert a catastrophic meltdown, authorities have tried dropping water from helicopters and shooting it from military trucks’ water cannons. But radiation levels are creating peril for workers, and residents within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius have been evacuated. U.S. officials have urged a wider evacuation area and warn that it could take weeks to get the crisis under control.

More here.

Do also read CNN’s Japan’s nuclear concerns explained. Interactive and helpful.