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Busy Parent Briefing: United States Now In Strike Zone for Falling Satellite

space junk, space debris

Artist's rendering of the UARS satellite. Credit: NASA

Get your helmets on.  NASA now says the US is a potential drop zone for several pieces of satellite debris making their way toward Earth this weekend.  After initially taking us off the list because it was not believed the satellite would be in orbit above us, they put the United States back on the strike zone list this morning.

CNN reports that the, “… United States is once again an unlikely but potential target for the 26 pieces of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, expected to survive the descent. Those pieces, made of stainless steel, titanium and beryllium that won’t burn, will range from about 10 pounds to hundreds of pounds, according to NASA.”

It is believe the pieces will reenter the atmosphere either late Friday or Saturday, but NASA says they cannot say exactly where those pieces will land.  They still believe the likelihood the space junk will hit populated areas is extremely small.

A couple fun things to share with your children while you’re waiting to see the satellite shower:

  • The BBC’s Newsround, a special site for kids, notes that the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) was the size of a bus, and that if anyone does see pieces of it they shouldn’t touch it.
  • NPR suggests a cool Android app called Satellite AR that will actually let you track satellites in the sky, including UARS.
  • Very few people have ever been hit by space junk, but Lottie Williams was.  Read her story at Gizmodo.
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