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Thread: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

  1. #31
    Flashaholic* LEDninja's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    Oddly, it lists the batteries as being made of stainless steel, which only describes the shell of each cell. Each battery is about 100 pounds and rather dense, so if you see one coming your way, try to jump out of the way.
    What flashlight will they fit?


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    Each of the batteries has a debris casualty area of 0.91 square meters, so they really have to hit you directly to hurt you (and it *will* hurt!). A big piece of the structure has a debris casualty area of 2.44 square meters, so it's going to be harder to jump out of the way. It's the 300 pound chunk, but it's just made out of aluminum, so it's not going to hurt quite as much as the batteries.
    If I got hit I'd be dead either way.

  2. #32
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by LEDninja View Post
    What flashlight will they fit?
    I'll admit, it was vaguely tempting to think about how you could use one or two of the battery's cells. Each cell was rectangular and weighed a few pounds each. You can see the the photo of the power module here, and you can see the three batteries on the bottom half of the module. Each battery is made of 22 cells connected in series. Lots of energy in those batteries, and we basically handled them as if they were explosives. That was because if you ever dropped a wrench across the terminals or such, they would release all of their energy quite quickly.... this was called "rapid spontaneous disassembly".

    The batteries were supplied by Gates in Florida, and were very, very carefully matched. They must have done a good job, because the batteries got (partially) charged and discharged every 90 minutes for about 15 years.

    Steve K.

  3. #33
    Flashaholic* LEDAdd1ct's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Thanks for the concise explanation, DM51.

    If I remember correctly, the article said there was no fuel left, which is a good thing.

    Hey, if it lands in my yard and makes some pretty craters, I'll offer a CPF discount of 50% to come and stare at it.
    "...and the diode multiplied and grew in brightness. And God saw that it was good."

  4. #34
    Flashaholic* matrixshaman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    "fairly solid evidence that these satellites contain nuclear material"???

    Please, would you share that with us?

    For what it's worth, I was part of the group at McDonnell Douglas that provided the Modular Power Subsystem, which takes power from the solar panel, charged up the nicad batteries in our module, and provided the battery power to the rest of the satellite. The three batteries, which each weigh about 100 pounds, are on the list of the 26 chunks that are expected to make it back to the surface of the earth.

    I had the pleasure of transporting one of the MPS electronics modules (I think it was the Power Regulator Unit) to Kennedy Space Center and helped swap it out for the one in the MPS (don't recall why). Pretty neat, and was in the clean room with the UARS satellite itself.
    You can get some tech details on the MPS module from our simple sales literature here and here.

    I'm not sure why the gov't doesn't want people to keep any debris... maybe just to discourage people from traveling into the impact area prior to the event and getting injured? Besides, some of the stuff in the satellite is toxic. Certainly the cadmium in our nicads is toxic. The beryllium used in some of the satellite structure is toxic too, if it has oxidized. BeO is not uncommon in power semiconductors, and the packaging often contains warnings.

    Anyway, don't listen to the conspiracy theories or other craziness out there. Just stay indoors, and put on a hard hat... just in case you win the 1 in a trillion lottery.

    Steve K.
    'Nuclear powered satellites' google search yields 320,000 hits
    Here is just a few:

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Nu...Space_999.html

    Nuke powered satellite expected to hit Earth (old news - this already happened)
    http://www.nytimes.com/1988/05/14/wo...in-summer.html

    http://www.space.com/6322-nuclear-po...lite-acts.html

    Russia to build Nuclear powered satellite to gobble up old satellites and space debris - this is what is needed but not sure about the nuke powered:
    http://dvice.com/archives/2010/11/russia-to-build.php

    But if you are saying you know the UARS has no nuclear power than that's good news.
    There is no important work, there are only a series of moments to demonstrate your mastery and impeccability. Almine

  5. #35
    Flashaholic cdrake261's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by DM51 View Post
    It means the chance of a fragment hitting someone are 1 in 3200. As there are ~6,000,000,000 people in the world, the chance of it hitting you are about 1 in 20,000,000,000,000.
    If I did math right, it's one in 187,500 chance world wide.

    Or one in 90,625 chance of hitting one person in the USA

  6. #36

    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    i thought 'they' could predict reasonably accurately the band that the satelite will land in. f'n' miles either side of the orbit path. and they would have tried for an orbit path that didnt pass over washington new york bejing etc. look at a globe and you will seeyou can pick orbits that spend more time or less time over water and a water landing i would think would be the preferred option.

    the debris casualty area - i wonder if that only applies to a hit to a human body or allowance has been made for events like hits to a car plane boat lpg gas tank.

    anyway the correct way to calculate the odds for someone in the crash window is 32000 times the number of folks in the crash window, not the number of folks on the planet.

    a couple of big chunks expected . is there an expected impact velocity for these chunks ?

  7. #37
    Flashaholic* AnAppleSnail's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by beerwax View Post
    i thought 'they' could predict reasonably accurately the band that the satelite will land in. f'n' miles either side of the orbit path. and they would have tried for an orbit path that didnt pass over washington new york bejing etc. look at a globe and you will seeyou can pick orbits that spend more time or less time over water and a water landing i would think would be the preferred option.

    the debris casualty area - i wonder if that only applies to a hit to a human body or allowance has been made for events like hits to a car plane boat lpg gas tank.

    anyway the correct way to calculate the odds for someone in the crash window is 32000 times the number of folks in the crash window, not the number of folks on the planet.

    a couple of big chunks expected . is there an expected impact velocity for these chunks ?
    Changing orbits costs a lot of fuel, which is expensive to put in orbit. Also, as an atmosphere satellite, it has to study the atmosphere above cities. In other words, for this to do its mission the orbit must go over cities - and can't dodge them later. Because of unpredictable atmospheric effects, it's hard to accurately determine the time it will come down. Because of its great speed, an imprecision of 15 minutes could put it halfway around the world from your guess. Finally, unpredictable aerodynamic effects can move it further from its predicted impact point. A fast de-orbit to reduce these problems would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The expected impact velocity is complicated. You sure wouldn't want to be under it, but I wouldn't expect sonic booms and secondary splash craters.
    My biggest light-hog is my camera.

  8. #38

    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    I'm not sure why the gov't doesn't want people to keep any debris... maybe just to discourage people from traveling into the impact area prior to the event and getting injured?
    It's stuffed with some of the best remote sensing technology that existed as of 1990. They're probably afraid someone might take bits to the nearest Chinese embassy and walk away with fistfulls of cash. Save the Chinese (or whoever) billions in research costs, jump their technology up right next to ours.

  9. #39
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by matrixshaman View Post
    'Nuclear powered satellites' google search yields 320,000 hits
    Here is just a few:

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Nu...Space_999.html

    Nuke powered satellite expected to hit Earth (old news - this already happened)
    http://www.nytimes.com/1988/05/14/wo...in-summer.html

    http://www.space.com/6322-nuclear-po...lite-acts.html

    Russia to build Nuclear powered satellite to gobble up old satellites and space debris - this is what is needed but not sure about the nuke powered:
    http://dvice.com/archives/2010/11/russia-to-build.php

    But if you are saying you know the UARS has no nuclear power than that's good news.
    Being a little bit of a space nerd myself I remember being intrigued as a kid when I saw a diagram of the Voyager 2 and saw it had a "nuclear battery"

    That's a bit misleading but it makes more sense to label it as a nuclear battery in a popular science book rather than a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). RTGs basically use the heat given off from decaying radioactive material to generate electricity and I doubt they are a fissile risk. RTGs have been around for many many decades and are typically used by satellites and probes that require power but have to make long trips where solar panels are impractical. In fact, I believe one of the Voyager probes are still working, although some of the instruments have been shut down.

  10. #40
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by Imon View Post
    Being a little bit of a space nerd myself I remember being intrigued as a kid when I saw a diagram of the Voyager 2 and saw it had a "nuclear battery"

    That's a bit misleading but it makes more sense to label it as a nuclear battery in a popular science book rather than a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). RTGs basically use the heat given off from decaying radioactive material to generate electricity and I doubt they are a fissile risk. RTGs have been around for many many decades and are typically used by satellites and probes that require power but have to make long trips where solar panels are impractical. In fact, I believe one of the Voyager probes are still working, although some of the instruments have been shut down.
    I'm not an expert on the overall safety, but RTGs are specifically chosen for using relatively small masses of radioactive isotopes. Here is a 1997 report on the environmental impact of RTGs.

    PDF clicky

    I suggest starting with 4.1.1.1, but it's a lot of other data included.
    My biggest light-hog is my camera.

  11. #41
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    this is for my area , 90265 , so. calfornia, you can look up yours at

    http://spaceweather.com/flybys/


    * September 23 * * * * *

    * Satellite Rise time Direction to look Transit time Max elevation Magnitude

    * UARS 07:53:36 pm SSW 07:54:44pm 26° 2.0 (visible)
    Last edited by TedTheLed; 09-21-2011 at 08:25 PM.
    originally cpf member #14 write me at gmail.

  12. #42
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by matrixshaman View Post
    'Nuclear powered satellites' google search yields 320,000 hits
    Here is just a few:

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Nu...Space_999.html
    this article speculates that nuclear power would be needed for exploration of the moon or a long term mission on Mars. Not particularly relevant to low earth orbit satellites.

    Quote Originally Posted by matrixshaman View Post
    Nuke powered satellite expected to hit Earth (old news - this already happened)
    http://www.nytimes.com/1988/05/14/wo...in-summer.html
    that's much more relevant. Probably a RTG system?
    As was mentioned, these are made with low density radioactive masses that just get warm. Thermocouples or thermo-electric devices then use the temperature difference between the mass and the rest of the spacecraft to generate electricity. A very nice, simple system with no moving parts. Usually reserved just for deep space probes where solar radiation is very weak, but could be used for LEO (low earth orbit) too, I guess. The downside is that they were heavy and more expensive to launch. In the early days, photo-voltaics were built with rigid substrates instead of the spiffy modern PV's that are flexible enough to roll up for launch and unfurl like a flag later. The early PV's might have been too complicated or unreliable, perhaps?? (just a guess)

    Quote Originally Posted by matrixshaman View Post
    But if you are saying you know the UARS has no nuclear power than that's good news.
    I know that the satellite depended on the MPS module to convert power from the PV panels and provide battery bus power to the satellite, so there was no reason for any nuclear power source. Not to say that there couldn't have been some small bit of radioactive material as part of the instruments on board (similar to the radioactive bits in some smoke detectors).

    Steve K.

  13. #43
    Flashaholic* LEDAdd1ct's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    When I visit the spaceweather site and punch in the nearest zip code to me, it offers a time to see UARS on the 26th. Is it extrapolating future orbits? I thought it was coming down tomorrow...?

    EDIT: North America is out!
    Last edited by LEDAdd1ct; 09-22-2011 at 07:13 AM.
    "...and the diode multiplied and grew in brightness. And God saw that it was good."

  14. #44
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by beerwax View Post
    i...
    a couple of big chunks expected . is there an expected impact velocity for these chunks ?
    the NASA analysis does list impact velocities on page 8. The reaction wheels are expected to be the fastest bits, with a velocity of 107m/s. The largest impact energy, though, is the "SSPP structure", with an impact energy of 153kJ. I'm still trying to figure out what "impacting ballistic coefficient" really means. It's in units of kg per cubic meter, so is it just density??

    interesting stuff!

    Steve K.

  15. #45
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by cdrake261 View Post
    If I did math right, it's one in 187,500 chance world wide.
    Or one in 90,625 chance of hitting one person in the USA
    Could you explain how you calculated this?
    Resistance is futile...

  16. #46
    Flashaholic* LEDninja's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Late Show with David Letterman:
    "A satellite is headed toward earth and the people at NASA have no idea where it will land. How would they know? It's not like they're rocket scientists."


  17. #47
    Flashaholic cdrake261's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by DM51 View Post
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]
    Could you explain how you calculated this?
    The proability of an object hitting just one person out of 3200, right? Divide 1 by 3200 and you get 0.0003125 then you multiply that by whatever population(earth = 6 billion, America = 290 million).

    0.0003125 * 290,000,000 = 90,625

    So my math is off... It's 90,625 out of 290,000,000 probability... Just reduce that to simple fractions

    29 out of 92,800....which still comes out to one person out of 3200 would still be hit by something.

    Ask me, that's a damn good probability.
    Last edited by cdrake261; 09-22-2011 at 09:00 AM.

  18. #48
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    I'm afraid that's the wrong way to calculate it. You multiply the population that could be affected by 3200. The probability that someone on earth could be hit by it is 1 in 3200. If you single out one individual in the entire world's population and ask what the chances are of him personally being hit, you multiply the 3200 by 6,000,000,000 and that gives you the 1 in 20,000,000,000 figure.

    However, beerwax may be right (post #36) and they may be able to steer the satellite into an orbit that avoids most of the world's population. That would affect the odds. It would reduce the chances further if you happen to live in a "safe" zone, and increase them if you are in the possible impact area. It's a big "if" though, and I rather doubt they have any real control remaining over where it is going to come down.
    Resistance is futile...

  19. #49
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by DM51 View Post
    However, beerwax may be right (post #36) and they may be able to steer the satellite into an orbit that avoids most of the world's population. That would affect the odds. It would reduce the chances further if you happen to live in a "safe" zone, and increase them if you are in the possible impact area. It's a big "if" though, and I rather doubt they have any real control remaining over where it is going to come down.
    Yeah, the only control exercised over the satellite was back in 2005, if I understand things correctly. That was when they applied as much reverse thrust as they could and only managed to slow it enough to drop it a bit lower in altitude. Any remaining control is somewhere in the range of slim to none (and I'm betting on "none").

    I heard someone on the radio compare it to dropping a coin into an aquarium and trying to predict where it will land. The only difference is that it doesn't take the coin 6 years to get to the bottom... well, there's also the assurance that the coin will land in water and not hit anybody.

    Steve K.

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    Flashaholic* EZO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Sorry, I had to remove this image because too many people were hotlinking to it on my server from other web sites.
    Last edited by EZO; 01-20-2012 at 08:47 AM.

  21. #51
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    The Earth gains 40 tons of mass every single day, from falling space dust and rocks. 40 tons of space rocks, falling out of the sky every day. This satellite is totally insignificant in the big scheme of things.

  22. #52
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    The Earth gains 40 tons of mass every single day, from falling space dust and rocks. 40 tons of space rocks, falling out of the sky every day. This satellite is totally insignificant in the big scheme of things.
    Is there any data on the size of the chunks striking the earth daily? i.e. how often does a 100 pound chunk strike?

    hmmm... just another day until we get close to the re-entry time!! Has anyone started a pool for the re-entry time? Put me down for 4:30pm, central time (GMT + 5, I think). My theory is that one of my old batteries will hit me just as I step out of work.

    regards,
    Steve K.

  23. #53

    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    Is there any data on the size of the chunks striking the earth daily? i.e. how often does a 100 pound chunk strike?

    regards,
    Steve K.
    might be 99.9 % 'quite tiny' . anything 100lb would make the news ? wouldnt you get a crater and some neat metorite fragments. and there might be a higher average velocity for natural space junk as compared to manmade space junk ?

    when the little green men from the next galaxy come to visit they are going to take one look at all our space junk and think ' gee these guys are messy ' .

    anyway cool science question how do they measure the change in the mass of the earth over time?

    cheers

  24. #54

    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    In fact, I believe one of the Voyager probes are still working, although some of the instruments have been shut down
    Last I checked both probes were functional, receiving and transmitting data, and cruising through the heliopause on their Interstellar Mission.

    Not bad for 70's technology.

  25. #55
    Flashaholic* Meganoggin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    Has UARS hit yet? Nothing on the BBC. Can I take my helmet off?
    amateurs practice ‘till they can get it right – professionals practice ‘till they can’t get it wrong

  26. #56
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    here's the latest news I could find at the moment, off the coast of California, trajectory Seattle-ish

    http://reentrynews.aero.org/1991063b.html
    originally cpf member #14 write me at gmail.

  27. #57
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    OK, so the satellite that was originally possibly going to hit the US, then definitely not going hit the US, then will hit the US, was originally falling faster than expected, then slower then expected, and now falling faster again. Got that?

    Screw it. I'm wearing my helmet tomorrow.

  28. #58
    *Flashaholic* Flying Turtle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    I'm heading outside right now. My yard needs a nice crater.

    Geoff

  29. #59
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    No free goodies from NASA in my garden. Apparently bits of it have been found in Alberta
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    Default Re: Bus sized UARS satellite crashing back to Earth Friday

    UPDATE #15 - NASA’s decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24. The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California said the satellite penetrated the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. The precise re-entry time and location are not yet known with certainty.

    UPDATE #14 - NASA’s decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24. The satellite was passing eastward over Canada and Africa as well as vast portions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans during that period. The precise re-entry time and location are not yet known with certainty.

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