How to Behave Upon the News that a Satellite Might, Possibly, Hit the Earth Friday
If the font scares you, the satellite has won.
Have you heard!? A satellite that's been alternately described as "massive," "bus-sized," and "six-ton" is "barreling" -- or possibly traipsing, stumbling, or lackadaisically meandering in its fancy shoes toward Earth. It's going to take until Friday to get here, and if it ruins our weekend plans, we are going to be pissed! It's expected to land "anywhere from northern Canada to southern South America," and there's a 1-in-3,200 chance of anyone getting hit with its debris, which, somehow, translates into a 1-in-20 trillion chance for "any particular person" to be hit. Before you get up from the computer and start pulling out your hair or eating a giant cake with both fists while shouting "What if it's MEEEEE? I have the WORST LUCK!" -- because what else are you going to do upon the news that a bus-sized satellite might, possibly, hit the Earth and land on you? -- take a few deep breaths. We are here for you!
Here's the deal with that satellite. It is called the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or, more ominously, "UARS." Also ominous, via MSNBC: It is "projected to make an uncontrolled fiery fall on Friday, plus or minus a day, according to NASA." While much of the satellite is expected to burn up, about 26 parts made of titanium, aluminum, steel, and beryllium (things you don't want hitting you, to the tune of 1,170 pounds) will probably survive the fall.
We put UARS up in the sky, so it's bound to come down at some point. But the question is, what do you want to be doing when it falls, ushering forth a 500-mile debris footprint? If you are the person hit, do you want to be wearing your pajamas and blogging surrounded by pizza boxes and week-old coffee cups? Do you want to be cheerily watching Beverly Hills 90210 reruns, say, the Donna Martin graduates episode? Do you want to be...working?
"Please keep in mind that the probability that it will fall upon the United States is low, yet we must be ready," explained a FEMA communique to a network of first responders in 2008. "We will have six Federal Joint Interagency Task Forces located around the country ready to deploy the moment we know the impact area, responding to assist you in your role of immediate consequence management."
While worrying further about whether the satellite will hit you, largely because of the terrifying phrase, "immediate consequence management," think about how you have a way greater chance of getting hit by a bus, and worry about that instead.
O.K., now we're stressing.
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