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Collided Satellite Debris Coming Down?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the boom-crash dept.

Space 155

Jamie found this Bad Astronomy blog on the many reports beginning about 7 hours ago of one or more fireballs in the sky across Texas. That blog's proprietor first doubted that the phenomena could be due to the satellites that collided in orbit last week, but later left the possibility open. The National Weather Service for Jackson, KY put out an announcement about possible explosions and earthquakes across the area and blamed the defunct satellites. "These pieces of debris have been causing sonic booms...resulting in the vibrations being felt by some residents...as well as flashes of light across the sky. The cloud of debris is likely the result of the recent in orbit collision of two satellites on Tuesday...February 10th when Kosmos 2251 crashed into Iridium 33." An Austin TV station has more reports.

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nice view (4, Interesting)

Criliric (879949) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867399)

now this would be a cool sight to see, i'm hoping nobody gets hurt from all of this

Re:nice view (5, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867799)

Troll? Why is that marked troll? He muses what an impressive show it must be an then expresses concern for his fellow man.

Finally! Incontrovertible proof that the Slashdot moderators are secretly encouraging members to express their disdain and apathy towards their kin thus creating an antisocial and disjointed population which would increase their control over them and facilitate the establishment of their New Global Order! Wake up sheeple! The Slashdot mods are taking over!

What? What do you mean I have to lower my morphine dose?

Re:nice view (1, Insightful)

zebslash (1107957) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869857)

He's a troll because he wrote a first post sensible and intelligent!

Re:nice view (5, Funny)

eltaco (1311561) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867951)

Insightful? Why is that marked insightful? He muses what an impressive show it must be an then expresses concern for his fellow man.

etc etc.

Re:nice view (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26868107)

Getting hit by a meteorite is pretty unlikely. The only well documented case happened in 1954 [wikipedia.org] , and it only resulted in a bruise.

There are many times more natural meteorites than artificial ones, so it's unlikely that anyone will be hurt by space debris meteorites.

earthquakes? (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867409)

From a few tons of colliding satellite? Seriously?

Oh dear, someone doesn't have a well tuned sense of scale methinks.

Re:earthquakes? (4, Funny)

fyoder (857358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867447)

Shhh, it's really the end times, earthquakes and fireballs in the sky and all that, but they don't want to alarm anybody. At least until the dead all rise and walk again by which point it should be obvious what's going on.

Re:earthquakes? (5, Funny)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867599)

So wait, there are going to be zombies?

Finally!

I mean..uhh..damn...yea...I'm not excited at all...

/breaks out the cricket bat

Re:earthquakes? (2, Funny)

galaxia26 (918378) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869891)

Uhm... You've got red on you.

Re:earthquakes? (4, Informative)

Laser_iCE (1125271) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867841)

Well, we were warned...

ZOMBIES AHEAD! [oregonlive.com]

Re:earthquakes? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26868963)

Holding "Control" and "Shift" on the roadsign control panel while typing in "DIPY" will reset the sign to the default access password, "DOTS".

Re:earthquakes? (3, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868063)

I'm such a moron for buying an electric chainsaw. I KNEW there was a reason I should have bought a gas one instead.

Re:earthquakes? (0, Redundant)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868201)

At least until the dead all rise and walk again by which point it should be obvious what's going on.

Nah. Just a pharmaceutical company testing a new drug... one which works even AFTER the disease has killed the individual.

Move along.

Re:earthquakes? (4, Funny)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868477)

Gah, not the rapture. My wife wants the stupid bathroom to be finished remodeling before anyone else makes alterations...

Geesh... To hear her whine and complain about how long I've taken - I can just hear it now, "You waited so long the rapture occurred... "

Re:earthquakes? (1)

rastilin (752802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869271)

That is quite possibly the best quote I've read so far this month, mind if I use it as a sig?

Re:earthquakes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26869715)

You are aware there are limits to the length of sigs? Yours current one reads "Please. What do you suggest as the reason why someone would respect RMS? His good looks? His impeccable cleanliness? His"

Re:earthquakes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26869529)

its not obvious until... brains... brains...

Re:earthquakes? (1)

Walkingshark (711886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869541)

I've been training for that all weekend ever since I purchased Left 4 Dead, the Army's Zombie murder simulator designed to train young soldiers to pull the trigger on a Z without hesitating.

Re:earthquakes? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26870031)

Shhh, it's really the end times, earthquakes and fireballs in the sky and all that, but they don't want to alarm anybody. At least until the dead all rise and walk again by which point it should be obvious what's going on.

Nobody steps on a church in my town!

Re:earthquakes? (5, Informative)

falken0905 (624713) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867479)

RTFA carefully. Citizens are reporting sounds and vibrations they -think- are earthquakes etc. but authorities are saying it is just caused by the sonic booms of stuff (whatever it is) entering the atmosphere and exploding.

Re:earthquakes? (2, Informative)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867889)

Giant subterranean worms moving through the bedrock, and they cover it up.

It's the only explanation.

Re:earthquakes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867933)

Time for a -1: Gears of War 2 mod...

Re:earthquakes? (1)

kftrendy (1382415) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868173)

Wouldn't that be Tremors more than GoW2? I'd say Dune, but it's pretty well established that sandworms can't tunnel through rock.

Re:earthquakes? (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868433)

Earth has too much moisture to support sandworms. It would have to be Tremors.

Re:earthquakes? (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869169)

I'm glad you said this as I was about to. There have been some pretty amusing stories of people reporting sonic booms as other things. From what I gather there were more than a few frantic calls about Russian attacks during the earlier days of super sonic aircraft since people thought there were bombs going off somewhere.

Re:earthquakes? (5, Informative)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867481)

Seismometers detect things like sonic booms and lightning strikes from quite large distances away.
So if it created a sonic boom coming down through the atmosphere it could have been detected as seismic activity.

Re:earthquakes? (1)

vikstar (615372) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869751)

so it's not really an earthquake, more like an airquake.

Re:earthquakes? (1)

PNutts (199112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867689)

In addition to the other comments, depending on where they live I'm not sure how many people know what a "sonic boom" is. Growing up I remember scraping the cat off the ceiling while wondering what hit the house. I'm wondering if "earthquake" is the only description that has broad understanding. Of course, it KY so instead of reports of "earthquakes" they could have been "stills falling over" or "family members knocked off their sister".

Kv (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868861)

=(1/2)mv^2

If you're near a couple of tons at reentry speed, yeah. I'll bet you'd think it was an earthquake too.

Re:Kv (3, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869777)

If you're near a couple of tons at reentry speed, yeah. I'll bet you'd think it was an earthquake too.

Except that none of the pieces would be anywhere NEAR that size. The iridium satellite was about half a ton, and the Russian satellite weighed in at just under a ton. Even if they had fused into one solid mass on impact, you still wouldn't have enough material to make up "a couple of tons".

Re:Kv (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869949)

It's not the mass that's the important part. An increase in mass results in a linear increase in kinetic energy. Double the mass? Double the kinetic energy.

It's velocity that's the problem. That term is squared. Double the velocity and you get 4x the energy on impact.

So even a few pounds moving quick enough will make an impressive kaboom. And these satellites weigh in the neighborhood of a ton or so.

So I still stand by it - this would make impressive impacts, easily confused with earthquakes I'm sure.

Re:earthquakes? (3, Interesting)

andy_t_roo (912592) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869045)

yep - just a little overrated.
Objects in low earth orbit have 32.1 to 38.6 MJ/kg [wikipedia.org] energy. Assuming that the collision between 2 1000kg satellites leaves 1/2 the energy left over, there's potentially 3.8e10J of energy. 1g of TNT is defined as 4184J [wikipedia.org] therefore the left over energy is equal to 9.2T of tnt, minus what is lost as objects pass through the atmosphere, what was used to break the satellite up, etc...

To put this into scale, if all this energy was to go off at one point in an earthquake, to cause the rumblings in TFA, it would be around mangitude 2.7 [wikipedia.org] or so, of which there are about a thousand per day and are generally not felt.

This is discounting that the satellite broke into quite a few pieces which will gradually enter the atmosphere over the next while.

Re:earthquakes? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869817)

Because no one could mistake a sonic boom from a piece of space job speeding through the atmosphere for an earthquake.

We are talking about people who call the national weather service to report such a thing, rather than say the USGS. That they would interpret something they have never experienced before incorrectly doesn't seem strange, to me at least.

Nonsense (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867413)

Those aren't debris, it's aliens attacking us!
Quick, where's Will Smith?!

Re:Nonsense (-1, Troll)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867465)

Don't worry I've been paying attention.

I'm gonna smoke them like a motherfuckin pack of kools!

-- The Fake Will Smith

Re:Nonsense (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867797)

Oh my, would you look at that? A Black Panther with mod points!

After seeing the video he says its a meteor (5, Interesting)

bitcastle (934210) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867417)

"I can now state unequivocally that this is not the result of the satellite collision. The meteor is moving far too quickly for that; satellite collision debris would fall at perhaps 10 km/sec max, while incoming meteoroids are moving at 11km/sec at a minimum, and this thing is screaming across the sky at several dozen km/sec (assuming itâ(TM)s at a typical meteor height of 50 or more km). So I was probably right in the first place, and what we have here is almost certainly a single object, perhaps a meter or two across, and it came from deep space"

Re:After seeing the video he says its a meteor (4, Interesting)

daemonburrito (1026186) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867483)

Most recent entry [discovermagazine.com]

Re:After seeing the video he says its a meteor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26868317)

it's the blob!

it figures... (1, Interesting)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867425)

just like columbia, i slept through the whole thing. need to come up with a business plan for notifying people in the event of space debris showers...

Re:it figures... (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867811)

call it spacebook

Re:it figures... (1)

bumchick (201482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868521)

at least it looks better than myface...

I warned about this (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867427)

I warned that when we allow the Italians to use our space they would use it to attack us with their Italian bombs. Didn't I warn you all, and you just laughed. But who is laughing now? Not I. As a Patriot I mourn for America and our God-given freedoms. The nefarious Italians are snickering at us from their "moon" base! I can hear their rascall;y singsong voices saying "mammamia!" and "inboccaallupo!" Well not for long they wont. Real Americans will rise to their fatherland's call, even if the President may be a secret Italian agent, we are still Americans one hundred and five percent and we out our pants on one leg at a time and speak American, not Mexican or whatever language they speak in those heathen lands that the Italian ingrates hail from.

Nah, it's the martians arriving. (4, Funny)

Keramos (1263560) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867435)

My understanding was that the satellites were in an orbit high enough that the debris would float around for several thousand years before being caught by the atmosphere. I suppose a few bits might have had the energy to move closer in, but all in all it sounds more like the Martians have arrived. Might be a good idea to go make some bacteria bombs before they finish building those tripedal walkers.

You don't undertstand orbital physics (3, Informative)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867507)

Staying in orbit requires a the right velocity. The results of a collision will have different velocities and some of that will de-orbit.

Re:You don't undertstand orbital physics (3, Insightful)

bcwright (871193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867931)

This is obviously true, but it usually takes a while for debris to de-orbit especially if it's not in very low orbit (where it will encounter more atmospheric drag). Offhand the only way I see for this to be likely to happen so quickly would be if the satellites had been moving in opposite directions (a head-on collision, in other words) - that ought to result in at least some debris having a markedly different orbital energy from that of either of the two satellites before the collision. But most satellites orbit in either an easterly direction (it takes less energy to launch them in that direction because you get an energy boost from the Earth's rotation) or in a polar orbit (which is useful because even though it requires more energy the satellite can pass over all of the Earth's surface) - so head-on collisions are relatively unlikely.

Re:You don't undertstand orbital physics (1)

cathector (972646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868359)

agreed that the variance in outgoing velocities will be maximal when the bodies have a head-on collision and minimal when they have a "collision" while moving nearly parallel. so these two bodies were moving more or less perpendicularly [spaceweather.com] , which to me leaves plenty of room for specular collision to produce debris heading straight down. think of how the velocities of two billiard balls can be wildly different from their velocities before collision, all the while maintaining the total momentum of the system.

Re:You don't undertstand orbital physics (1)

bcwright (871193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868635)

There might well be some fragments heading "straight down" (as you put it) - but that would mean that other pieces would need to be kicked into a higher orbit in order to conserve momentum. Probably most of the debris cloud would remain at approximately the same altitude but in a somewhat different orbit. Most small orbital objects (on the order of a few grams or less) reentering the atmosphere just don't produce much of a display; you need more mass - a whole intact satellite, for example. I just don't see this as a likely outcome, certainly not that quickly.

Re:You don't undertstand orbital physics (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869565)

Most small orbital objects (on the order of a few grams or less) reentering the atmosphere just don't produce much of a display; you need more mass - a whole intact satellite, for example.

The two satellites weren't vaporized. Their pieces aren't going to be a few grams or less. The combined weight of the two satellites was over a ton, and I don't think they shred into literally a million one gram pieces. If they shred into two thousand pieces, the average piece would weigh a pound. Now, it could be there are many more pieces than that, with a smaller average, but it would be highly surprising if this collision did not generate literally thousands of pieces of debris that WILL be easily visible on reentry.

Re:You don't undertstand orbital physics (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868627)

What about the bits which flew in to the earth, or at that kind of angle as opposed to out in to space.

Its not like they collide and all the debris magically flies away from the earth.
A awful lot would go downwards, while some would go away.

Re:You don't undertstand orbital physics (3, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868853)

A head on collision IS extremely unlikely, which is why you can have some parts re-enter so soon. Imagine a glancing collision where one satellite strikes the upper half of the other. The result can be a highly eccentric path that intersects the atmosphere. An additional factor could be if a pressurization tank bursts in the collision.

Re:You don't undertstand orbital physics (1)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869713)

I don't have the link handy, but there was a gif posted in the original article about the collision which showed that the satellites were traveling roughly orthogonally to each other.

Re:Nah, it's the martians arriving. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867603)

They were in a 667km orbit. That's the low end of LEO.

Re:Nah, it's the martians arriving. (3, Informative)

bcwright (871193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867803)

That's far from the lowest LEO. The International Space Station (ISS) orbits at about 358km.

Re:Nah, it's the martians arriving. (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867863)

LEO is between 160 and 2000 km.. therefore 600 is in the low end of LEO.

Re:Nah, it's the martians arriving. (1)

bcwright (871193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868095)

It's still high enough that it's unlikely that significant debris from the collision could de-orbit that quickly - which was the point. A few miscellaneous chunks of debris would not make a trail visible from the ground - you'd need a significant mass in a single chunk or at least in a cloud that all de-orbited together.

Re:Nah, it's the martians arriving. (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868119)

Dude, it's an unprecedented event. Even the best experts in the world are shrugging their shoulders at it. What makes you so fucking smart?

Re:Nah, it's the martians arriving. (1)

bcwright (871193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868427)

Every single event is unique and unprecedented, by definition - but that's no reason to throw out basic principles like the conservation of momentum.

I'm not sure why you seem to think I'm attacking you - it's just that it's very unlikely that enough debris from those satellites could be de-orbiting that quickly and also sufficiently simultaneously that the event would actually be visible from the ground. The odd tiny chunk of metal, perhaps, but that would almost certainly not make a visible display. The expectation is that the vast bulk of the debris will not even intersect with the altitude of the much lower ISS orbit for decades if not centuries.

Space junk falling in other places (1)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868437)

A bunch of this crap already fell through the skies in Canada [www.ctv.ca] and hit the Atlantic Ocean on Friday. And NORAD phoned ahead to warn Calgary it was coming. So the collision might be unprecedented but the falling space junk is not...

I'm not trying to make a judgment here but the American media frenzy is an interesting contrast to the Canadian "whatever, eh" reaction.

And the scariest thing here is how bad their math was, predicting it would hit somewhere in Alberta and then having it land off the coast of AFRICA. Someone move a decimal place?

Re:Space junk falling in other places (0, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868469)

I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to bcwright who is still claiming [slashdot.org] that satellites in LEO that have just run into each other couldn't possibly fall to Earth "in such a short time". Gravity is a foreign concept to some.

Re:Space junk falling in other places (2, Informative)

bcwright (871193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868889)

Gravity is a foreign concept to some.

I hate to break it to you, but I seem to recall that ol' Isaac had a lot to say about momentum as well. If it's going to come to believing your speculations as opposed to Newton and Einstein, well, you're going to lose every time, at least in my book.

The satellites were pretty much shredded into perhaps tens of thousands of little bits - and the bits and pieces are going to have a variety of orbits and velocities. I don't think I ever said that NONE of it could be deorbiting this quickly, just that it's very unlikely that very MUCH of it could be doing so, and that it requires a fair amount of debris to make a visible display. Moreover given that the pieces almost certainly don't all have exactly the same velocity, it's highly unlikely that very many of them would deorbit simultaneously.

Gravity is only part of the story.

Re:Space junk falling in other places (2, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869171)

No, others might just have thought it through a bit more.

Gravity is fighting against a hell of a lot of orbital momentum, so it takes time for these bits to fall. Also since the satellites were going the same way at roughly the same speed all the bits are going to go at roughly that speed and direction. Think of it as one rear ending the other. The big difference is instead of a few km/h difference in speed it might be closer to km/s.

I had the advantage of being taught undergraduate supersonic fluid flow and basic orbital mechanics by a guy that designed satellites and the early scamjets. Others know a lot more than I picked up in those few hours but we are not describing a terribly complex system here.

Re:Nah, it's the martians arriving. (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867693)

Might be a good idea to go make some bacteria bombs before they finish building those tripedal walkers.

Check. I'll go down to the local kindergarten and start collection specimens; you begin assembling the deliver mechanism (though I reckon just holding up a kid a making it sneeze should do the trick).

Re:Nah, it's the martians arriving. (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869025)

Until someone tells me why it would not be the case, I would expect the initial vectors of the debris to form the usual cone shape of ballistic collisions. That being so, it is quite possible that a portion of that cone would hit the atmosphere fairly quickly.

The people who fuss about satellites don't care about that portion, they tend to focus on the rest of the spatter cone, since that is what is going to be a long term risk to their satellites.

It was not from the satellite collision (5, Informative)

The Bad Astronomer (563217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867441)

As someone noted above, I'm now very sure this was a natural piece of cosmic debris, a chunk of asteroid or something similar. I posted a wrapup with my thoughts [discovermagazine.com] .

Re:It was not from the satellite collision (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867961)

As someone noted above, I'm now very sure this was a natural piece of cosmic debris, a chunk of asteroid or something similar.

Natural, huh? From all of that activity happening up there, one can only conclude that we're under attack. Don't try to cover it up.

First GW Bush, now this!

Aliens!

Re:It was not from the satellite collision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26869049)

Here's the proof:

If you still have Windows 2000/XP:

1) Open Notepad
2) type in "nasa hid the facts" (without the quote marks)
3) save the file.
4) Close and reopen it

Re:It was not from the satellite collision (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26869727)

I'll believe it when a good astronomer weighs in k thx.

First wave (0, Redundant)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867451)

They are coming.. Good thing we had secret killer satellites to shoot down the alien's ships.

pulling a Markoff (-1, Redundant)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867469)

After just reading this nonsense [nytimes.com] , my first thought was: "The sky is so broken, it needs to be replaced". It sure would make a good headline.

NOTAM was issued yesterday (5, Informative)

daemonburrito (1026186) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867525)

The FAA issued a Notice To Airmen yesterday predicting debris and asking pilots to report.

I think there may be some conflict between the FAA's safety concerns and NORAD's secrecy. NORAD will weigh in eventually (when they're sure what they can and can't say), but there no reason to throw away the FAA's opinion, even though they are not the "go to" agency.

Re:NOTAM was issued yesterday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26868003)

Would the FAA have access to information independent of NORAD?

That's a straight question. I don't know who has detailed tracking, and how access is channeled.

Like is there a standing order for agencies with information of incoming to advise the FAA when and what will be entering its jurisdiction? Is the protocol a direct technician channel, or a release via PR/EA dept?

Re:NOTAM was issued yesterday (1)

daemonburrito (1026186) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868151)

I'm not an expert, but there are other organizations tracking orbiting debris, like ESA [wikipedia.org] . I think "where did the FAA get their information yesterday?" is an excellent question.

I'm totally sure there is someone reading this thread that works in right building to answer your second and third questions.

I'm a little hesitant to speculate about what happened in the past couple of days. However, I will know if I was right or wrong in the coming week, thanks to thousands of amateur astronomers that watch birds that don't exist.

Re:NOTAM was issued yesterday (1)

daemonburrito (1026186) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868273)

Lame second post, sorry...

According to this [wikipedia.org] wikipedia article, SAC catalogues data from a lot of different sources (and sends it up to NORAD?), including ground based radar and telescopes. Maybe one of these sources contacted FAA.

Re:NOTAM was issued yesterday (1)

mail2345 (1201389) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868563)

All they find is Santa returning from a strip club...

Bad summary (1)

rpp3po (641313) | more than 5 years ago | (#26867533)

There is no mention of "possible explosions" in the original article. The debris has also not been "blamed" for earthquakes, but it says that people may have mistaken the the phenomenon for them.

Re:Bad summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867701)

The debris has also not been "blamed" for earthquakes, but it says that people may have mistaken the the phenomenon for them.

These days I expect many Americans are not familiar with the sonic boom, likewise earthquakes. I know I don't have much familiarity with them myself.

The only earthquake I ever knowingly felt was in south-east Indiana in '87 or '88 in the New Madrid fault zone. The house shifted for a split second or so. I felt the displacement and saw the water in the toilet sloshing.

The only sonic boom I can personally recall hearing is from the shuttle Columbia breakup. I was inside my house north of Dallas and even so it was a very audible boom and made the house rattle a bit.

helmets (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867557)

Will the FSF be marketing an official helmet to protect against sat debris, assuming their tinfoil hats would be sadly insufficient against this new vector?

Goddamn commies ruin another party (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867669)

Why don't those fucking commies just go to HELL where all Godless creatures belong !!!

Re:Goddamn commies ruin another party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867691)

Stupid kid. This IS hell.

Debris or Meteor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867675)

I was interviewed by a local tv station, if one of these bodies were to reach the ground local residents could feel vibrations. Video is here:
[link]http://www.wlextv.com/global/video/popup/pop_playerLaunch.asp?vt1=v&clipFormat=flv&clipId1=3449701&at1=News&h1=LEX 18 News at 11- February 14, 2009

Damn elements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867743)

2251? My that is a large element, know the source? Nice name too.

No wonder it caused a flippin Earthquake, surprised it never wiped us all off the face of the planet.

sonic booms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867775)

not sure if this is related or not but I live in SW Florida and over the past week there's been tons of sonic booms. Like one every hour or so for half the day and then again the next day. No clue if it's related but I've been trying to figure out why and saw this article and thought maybe...

Re:sonic booms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26867829)

Shhhh. You'll spoil the surprise for Fidel and Raul.

RE: GREAT ... Bush Dead ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26868009)

It would be poetic for grayhound bus sized debris to slam into Bush's Crawford ranch, killing all inhabitents: George W. -- GHW -- Barb -- Cheney.

What a wonderful spring welcome from the Heavens this would be.

It would save us the expense of an international war crimes trial ... and subsequent executions by hanging or firing squad, broadcast world-wide in real-time, with and audiance of billions.

How economical!

How cost efficient!

The sky is falling! (2, Interesting)

defiek (1478245) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868101)

It can only stay up there so long. I read somewhere that they estimated a bulk of the debris will stay in orbit for 10,000 years.

space debris (1)

dukeofurl01 (236461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868385)

A while ago I saw a google earth version of all the satellites in orbit, and I had no idea there were so many. If even 25% of them are dead, I think it would be great if they came down. I'm surprised anyone can get a space ship through that.

the objects coming down are.... (1)

cybvapor (1203306) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868429)

....not from the colided satellites.

I work with the people who track and catalog object is earth orbit. This is most likely a meteor shower and not anything coming in.

Sky is falling (0)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26868517)

What happened to all the alarmist articles saying that this space debris was going to be up there for 10,000 years?

It sounded like BS when I read it, now that pieces are coming down it only confirms my suspicions.

Re:Sky is falling (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26868713)

Debris thrown into a higher orbit will last almost indefinitely orbits greater than 1,000km have lifetimes of thousands of years. Debris that is accelerated into a lower orbit has lifespans of day to months, anything less than 100km will last less than a year.

I was interviewed by lex18 news about this yesterday, I work with the 21m space tracking system at Morehead State University, and have been studying orbital mechanics in advance of the launch of our cubesat KYSAT1

Re:Sky is falling (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869307)

Well two things.

1) If you have ever seen an explosion your BS-o-meter should have alerted you to the fact that some debris would go into a HIGHER orbit... and some would go into a LOWER orbit. Therefore you can have material re-enter the atmosphere AND stay in orbit for thousands of years.

2) It's not the sattelite debris. It's a coincidence and your suspicions aren't confirmed... and they're wrong.

Since when has basic newtonian physics been "alarmist"?

So, Texas finally saw Transformers the movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26869027)

They, for one, welcome their new Decepticon overlords.

Or perhaps this is a stunt for the second movie?

Not from the satellites (5, Informative)

Viadd (173388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869063)

(Also posted to Bad Astronomy.)

A simple orbital analysis using the ground tracks from, e.g. Heavens-Above.com shows that this was not debris form the collision.

The debris from a collision keeps more or less the same orbit as before, but is spread out along the orbit. (Orbital plane changes require a lot more delta-v than changing the along-track position or altitude, since drift along the orbit accumulates, but displacements across the orbit swing back and forth with each cycle.)

Looking at the ground tracks of
Iridium 33 [heavens-above.com] and
Cosmos 2251 [heavens-above.com]

Just eyeballing the tracks, the North-going leg of the orbit of Iridium 33 crosses the latitude of Texas at around 10 PM local time. For Cosmos 2251, it crosses about 4 PM local.

An 11 AM fireball could be Iridium debris, but only if it were heading to the south-south-east. The fireball was heading NNE. So this was NOT debris from either satellite.

Re:Not from the satellites (1)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869525)

Well that leads to two possible conclusions. The first most probable one is that those is Texas still have not mastered the concepts of North and South or East and West. Or the US/Russia are involved in a petty eye for an eye battle with spy satellites. (/end conspiracy theory) I personally hope for the latter. Its less frightening to me.

Idiots (-1, Troll)

RogueSupport (1082837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869099)

It's idiot like you lot, who believe everything they read (or don't read in this case) that caused the sub-prime mortgage scams to bring our world into the state it is; Squawking about things you don't understand. Perhaps you should RTFA and take a remedial physics course. It's NOT the satellites! The pieces are FAR too small to even be SEEN burning up (which they won't for some time). Perhaps you should go back to your mosque and ask allah (I'm assuming that is where you got your information)why he lied to you, or get a REAL education! If you are too lazy/stupid for that, perhaps you can... R T F A!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26869355)

Pretty sure I saw a fireball come down near New York Harbor.

Filming equipment? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26869745)

I always park my car as far away as possible from everyone else's cars in the parking lot, to avoid getting dings and scratches on my car's beautiful paint job. Today, when I parked at the far end of the parking lot, I walked away from the car and then heard a huge crashing sound. When I looked, I saw my car was smashed under some debris about the size of a car. I didn't know what it was and initially thought stuff was falling down like that movie with Jim Carrey, what was it called? The Truman Show. Where stuff is falling from the sky because the sky is actually a ceiling. I got all paranoid and thought the whole world must be watching me on television. After all I always did think that I was the center of the world. I'm much relieved to find out that it was a satellite and not some filming equipment.

funny (1)

HailSatan (843446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26869863)

a large metal object landed in my backyard today. I assumed it was just another one of those pesky weather balloons, but when I tried to dismantle it with a torch it didn't even get hot to the touch. What I want to know is: What's the deal with all the weird foreign language symbols on it, and why is this other country so darn interested in our weather?
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