This is the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) launched from the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1991. It’s continuing mission has been to monitor the atmosphere around our little blue dot in the universe. And for nearly 15 years it did its job flawlessly.
And then UARS got laid off, it got a pink slip, in NASA vernacular it got decommissioned.
It’s a common occurrence in the space program these days. You give all to the agency and then… WHAM! Out of the blue there is no more work for you.
So what do you do? Much like many other Americans out of work and looking for something to do, nobody will put it back to work. So UARS has done what many other out-of-work Americans do. It’s wandered aimlessly losing all hope of finding new direction. Until finally, in a state of sheer exhaustion, it’s going to crash and burn.
Possibly right on top of another American ready to crash and burn.
Six and a half tons of out-of-work space junk worth millions in it’s heyday is plummeting towards a date with planet Earth sometime between now and Saturday.
If you ever watched the Showtime series, Dead Like Me, you know what it means to be plastered into the pavement by a piece of space debris. Main character Georgia Lass joins the ranks of the dead while on a lunch break from her temp job at Happy Time Temporary Services. She is vaporized when a toilet seat from de-orbiting Mir space station slams into her at a gazillion miles-per-hour. Her last words…. Ah shit!
I think we are in pretty good shape. As far as I know there was not a toilet on the UARS.
But just to be safe… me and my little buddy Chicken Little will be scanning the skies for space junk.
You get hit by a bit of UARS you will be dead and buried at the same time. How convenient.