Since it happened after midnight, aka Geoff primetime, I tweeted and posted to Facebook details of the demise of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. This is the kind of nerdy pursuit I embrace. It was pretty obvious UARS would succumb to gravity and friction around midnight. NASA said so.
#UARS Update: Re-entry expected between 11:45 pm EDT today and 12:45 am EDT Saturday. go.nasa.gov/rb6tR1
Around 3:00 AM NASA added:
We can now confirm that #UARS is down! Debris fell to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23, and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24.
#UARS Update: Satellite confirmed to have penetrated the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. Precise time & location not yet known
The screencap at the upper right corner of this entry is worth clicking. It’s the latest Google screen for the search “uars.” Obviously lots of people think they know where this 6.5 ton bus sized went. Can they all be wrong?
This morning at 11:23 AM NASA posted to their website:
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 entered the atmosphere over the North Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of the United States. The precise re-entry time and location of any debris impacts are still being determined. NASA is not aware of any reports of injury or property damage.
This wasn’t some random blip from a crazy despot. We were expecting UARS. We knew where to look… and were looking. And yet we only know where UARS went if “sort of” counts as knowing.
Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said the spacecraft entered the atmosphere around 12:15 a.m. EDT over the coast of Washington. He said much of the debris likely fell over the Pacific Ocean, with some making it to Canada over northern Alberta and perhaps as far as the Hudson Bay – Seth Borenstein, Associate Press
Why haven’t we heard that kind of answer and additional specificity from NASA or the Air Force? What exactly did we think was protecting us against the Soviets during the Cold War?
This lack of knowledge is very disappointing. Actually it’s scary.