Apparently the European Space Agency’s (ESA) one-ton Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer, aka GOCE or the “Space Ferrari”, satellite has completely run out of fuel, is falling back to Earth and is expected to arrive sometime tonight.
But don’t worry, ESA scientists have released a statement reassuring the public that they have complete control of the situation and know approximately where and when the satellite will land and they have promised it won’t harm anyone or anything.
Oh no, wait that’s incorrect. Actually the scientists have announced to The New York Times that they have absolutely no clue whatsoever where the giant hunk of metal will land or even when it will begin to fall per se:
“It’s rather hard to predict where the spacecraft will re-enter and impact,” said Rune Floberghagen, the mission manager… With its propellant tank empty, it is now guided by gravity and air friction. “Quite literally GOCE is now nearly flying like an airplane without an engine, with the upper layer of the atmosphere providing aerodynamic stabilization,” Dr. Floberghagen said.
(Is that his real name?)
Don’t worry though, they expect the entire satellite to disintegrate upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, right? Take it away Huffington Post:
While the bulk of the one-ton satellite is expected to disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere, fragments of the craft will reach the surface of the planet on Sunday or Monday. The spacecraft will likely break into as many as 45 pieces, the heaviest of which could weigh 200 pounds, before it reaches the surface.
Oh, that’s good, the biggest piece of a broken satellite falling out of space to land who-knows-where could only weigh 200 pounds… Wait, 200 POUNDS?! What the—?!
You know, “Space Ferrari” sounds kind of cool when it isn’t slamming into my grandma!
By the way, The Huffington Post followed up the previous paragraph with:
Just where will the pieces land? The agency has no idea.
Yeah GREAT, we got that part, thanks.
Maybe another news outlet has a more uplifting stance?
A one-tonne satellite is falling out of control and is likely to crash into the Earth sometime during the weekend, scientists have warned.
The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer was launched in March 2009, to study changes in sea level, ocean circulation and the planet’s gravitational field.
It has now run out of fuel and is spiralling back to Earth.
The European Space Agency says it cannot predict exactly where, or when, but that it is highly unlikely to cause any casualties.
So they have no idea where the satellite might possibly land, but we shouldn’t panic because they somehow just know for a fact it’s “highly unlikely to cause any casualties”?
Stellar. Maybe Fox News will be a bit more reassuring: “A 2,000-pound satellite may crash in your backyard Sunday night“.
Oh. I see. Well, I guess if I have a choice, my backyard is better than my face. Let’s check out the article’s first line?
“Who do you sue if you’re hit by a satellite?”
Gee, let me think. I’m going to go with no one because I’m pretty sure I’ll be dead. Ugh, thanks for sucking, Fox News!
Not that I’m too hopeful, but let’s check out NBC News’ take on it in “Scientists expect GOCE satellite to crash to Earth in just days”:
ESA said Friday that humans are 250,000 times more likely to win the lottery than to get hit by the debris weighing up to 90 kilograms (200 pounds) that may survive the breakup.
Now that’s a lot better. Whew! For a minute there, I was getting a little worried in that paranoid part of my brain— Hey, wait a minute!
Do they mean win the lottery completely or at all? Are they including people that only get one number and get a dollar or whatever?? Which lottery are they even referencing, exactly? I mean, there were 487,099 PowerBall winners just on Friday alone…
I’m sure it’ll be fine, right CNET?
If you’re a careful sort, you’ll have been preparing for a couple of months now…
Crap! But but but…I just heard about this a couple days ago!
But, should the warnings have eluded you, then please consider this your overhead traffic alert… As CNET reported in September, this beautifully nicknamed satellite…is running out of fuel and on its way back to Earth. The hope then was that the European Space Agency would at least have a clue as to where some of the parts might land.
You mean to tell me they knowingly put these giant metal satellites up in the air all the time with a finite amount of fuel and hope they will know when they will die and where they will crash back down to Earth?! Guh-reat. Thanks, scientists.
However, The New York Times reported that little progress has been made in this regard.
And things are a touch imminent…
Dear Mom and Dad,
Sorry about that one time I broke the lamp and blamed it on the dog. It’s been weighing on me. Also, thanks for having me. I love you guys. Just wanted you to know in the slight chance I get smashed into a street pizza by a giant 200-pound flaming chunk of dead satellite hurling out of space.