Fiji–We’re On The Way

GPS Visualizer  Google Maps output

We have a guest. It’s our first guest. My niece, Melissa, has stopped by on her way from Milwaukee to Fiji. We’re on the way to Fiji, right?

Melissa was married six months ago. She and her husband, Mark, are going on their honeymoon. He arrives Thursday morning. They depart Thursday night. She has never been to California!

Did I mention we’re on the way to Fiji?

Helaine and I have discussed this. We expect more visitors now that we’re in SoCal. More people come here, or want to come here.

Now, how to entertain? Melissa is our test case.

Stef was able to come down and join us. She, Melissa and Helaine are making pottery right now. I’m dogsitting.

HB Pier  Southside   Surf Report and HD Surf Cam   SURFLINE.COMThis evening we’re planning on a real California style dinner outside at Duke’s in Huntington Beach. It’s at the foot of the Huntington Beach Pier. The photo on the left is a screencap I just took from their webcam. It’s the perfect SoCal setting.

Tomorrow the girls head to Disneyland. Need I say more?

Thursday, with Mark on-the-ground and in-tow, Helaine and I will drive to Los Angeles. We’ll show them Stef’s neighborhood in Hollywood and probably head toward Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive plus other touristy sites.

By the time they get on their Fiji-bound plane they should be exhausted and ready for the 10.5 hour flight. Meanwhile, we’ll have some training for our next guests.

This is going to happen more often now that we live in the Southland.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Here’s the problem. When you’ve got an object as big as this 10-ton satellite, some of it will survive the plunge to Earth. That’s especially true when there are hardened pieces.

mir_atmosphere.jpgIt looks like a US spy satellite is out-of-control and will soon plunge back into the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s happened before.

I remember when Mir plunged to Earth. The photo on the left shows what was left as the debris passed over Fiji.

Back in 1979 pieces of Skylab fell on Australia. No one was injured.

The question is, is this dangerous? Uh… yeah. Though there is some conflict in that opinion.

I just checked Google’s news site and found “Falling US satellite is not dangerous – NASA” from Russia’s Interfax news agency. That’s a relief.

Oops. Hold on. Here’s what the Times of London says: “Threat as 10-ton satellite set to crash back to Earth”

So, it’s either not dangerous or a threat. Got it?

Here’s the problem. When you’ve got an object as big as this 10-ton satellite, some of it will survive the plunge to Earth. That’s especially true when there are hardened pieces.

From the New York Times:

John E. Pike, the director of in Alexandria, Va., said that if the satellite in question was a spy satellite, it was unlikely to have any kind of nuclear fuel, but that it could contain toxins, including beryllium, which is often used as a rigid frame for optical components.

The speculation is this is a spy satellite, launched in 2006 and quickly lost. It probably went up with hydrazine for thrusters. That’s really nasty stuff.

When properly used in space:

The catalyst chamber can reach 800° C&#185 in a matter of milliseconds, and they produce large volumes of hot gas from a small volume of liquid hydrazine, making it an efficient thruster propellant.” – Wikipedia

When improperly encountered on the ground:

Hydrazine is highly toxic and dangerously unstable, especially in the anhydrous form. Symptoms of acute exposure to high levels of hydrazine in humans may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, headache, nausea, pulmonary edema, seizures, coma, and it can also damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. The liquid is corrosive and may produce dermatitis from skin contact in humans and animals. Effects to the lungs, liver, spleen, and thyroid have been reported in animals chronically exposed to hydrazine via inhalation. Increased incidences of lung, nasal cavity, and liver tumors have been observed in rodents exposed to hydrazine. – Wikipedia

The Earth is mainly covered by water. Even the land portion of Earth is sparsely populated in most spots. The odds of anyone getting hurt is small.

However, the more stuff that falls down, the worse those odds get.

&#185 – Here in the US, we use Fahrenheit. 800&#176 C is about 1,500&#176 F.

For perspective, aluminum melts at 1218&#176 F. Most other ‘substantial’ metals have significantly higher melt points.