From the ABC 7 Weather team

Falling UARS satellite: Is it happening already?

September 21, 2011 - 12:24 PM
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Something falling fast punched a hole in a California house.

Think hiding in your home until the UARS satellite falls later this week will save you? Think again!

Debbie Payne, a resident of Petaluma, Calif., was milling around the house earlier this month when she heard a "huge crash and the whole house shook," according to the below news report. When she went outside she noticed a new hole in the eave of her house, just a few feet from where her son puts his head at night.

Turns out that somebody in a plane, helicopter or blimp had dropped the zoom lens of a Canon camera. At 6 to 9 inches long, it achieved skull-crushing speed relatively fast. The owner of the equipment has not come forward to collect it, and Payne really wants to get in touch with him or her, so if you lost a lens at a great height on Sept. 2 please drop her a note!

When the UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) spacecraft breaks free of orbit on (probably) Friday and comes tumbling to earth, some two-dozen pieces are expected to survive the fiery reentry process and touch down anywhere from South America to Canada. Of course, the odds of somebody getting Swiss-cheesed by NASA tech is about 1 in 3,200, according to the space agency, and only 1 in 21 trillion that you, personally, will get beaned. So don't worry too much.

If this satellite fascinates you as much as it does me, you'll probably want to see this video of it somersaulting through black space on Sept. 15. The footage was shot  in northern France by photographer to the stars, Thierry Legault, who you may remember for his museum-worthy image of the International Space Station crossing a solar eclipse.

You can follow the UARS satellite in its last days using this app for the iPhone or Android. SpaceWeather also has a great online interface for locating the satellite in the sky where you live.

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