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-   -   HEADS UP! 2,000-pound satellite is going to fall, but where? (http://www.spursreport.com/forums/cantina/120634-heads-up-2-000-pound-satellite-going-fall-but-where.html)

alh1020 11-09-13 04:15 PM

HEADS UP! 2,000-pound satellite is going to fall, but where?
A 2,000-pound satellite may crash in your backyard Sunday night

Who do you sue if you’re hit by a satellite?

A defunct satellite from the European Space Agency the size of a Chevy Suburban is set to plunge to Earth somewhere between Sunday night and Monday afternoon -- and experts say there's no way to precisely determine where it will crash.

GOCE, or Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, ran out of gas last month and has been steadily sinking towards the Earth. As the planet rotates, the satellite whizzes over nearly every point on Earth. Experts expect it to plunge harmlessly into the oceans that cover 70 percent of the surface of the planet. But what if it doesn’t? What if it takes out your old Accord?

“Basically, governments are responsible for their own spacecraft,” explained Marcia S. Smith, president of the Space and Technology Policy Group in Arlington, Va. “[If] you could prove a piece of GOCE hit your Honda, you could go to your government to make a claim,” she told FoxNews.com.

But don’t put the ESA’s lawyer on speed dial just yet. Most of the fragments of the satellite are likely to burn up on re-entry, said Heiner Klinkrad, Head of ESA’s Space Debris Office according to an ESA blog.

“Most of these fragments will completely burn up. A small fraction of the initial spacecraft mass -- about 20 percent or 200 kilograms [440 pounds] -- is expected to reach ground, distributed across dozens of fragments, spread over a sizable re-entry ground swath.”

400 pounds of smoking metal spread over a "sizeable swath" is nothing to sniff at. But should one of those fragments land on U.S. soil, you’re fully covered, according to the United Nations. The U.N.’s Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objectshttp://global.fncstatic.com/static/v...ernal-link.png was created in September of 1972, and has been ratified by 88 countries and signed by 22 nations as of January 1, 2013.

“A launching State shall be absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space object on the surface of the Earth or to aircraft in flight,” reads the policy. And the GOCE satellite was launched from Russia, so that country would be responsible, said Mark Hopkins chairman of the executive committee of the National Space Society.

While space objects reenter the atmosphere all the time, few pieces survive the fiery trip and many of those end up in the ocean, Smith said. But sometimes, they do. Russia's Cosmos 954 satellite crashed in Canada in 1978, with a radioactive energy source. That sounds more alarming than it actually was; the element was “vanishingly small” when it hit ground,

Hopkins said. But Canada did try to get money back from the Russians -- and they did pay up, he said.

“It was a lot less than they wanted,” he told FoxNews.com.

Indeed, the Canadian government asked for $6 million to cover cleanup and "future unpredicted expenses," according to Matthew Kleinman's "The Little Book of Space Lawhttp://global.fncstatic.com/static/v...ernal-link.png." Russia paid half that. It's up to a government to bring charges, according to the policy book.

"Had a Canadian citizen been injured by the Cosmos 954 debris, his only recourse would have been to either convince the Canadian government to bring a claim against the Soviet Union on his behalf or bring a claim on his own behalf in a national court with appropriate jurisdiction.

If he won his case, he would then have had to hope that the Soviet government honored the court's judgment," the book notes.

So if you hear a crash in the night, rest assured that the responsible party will most likely pick up the tab. Just make sure to take a picture.

Link to article: A 2,000-pound satellite may crash in your backyard Sunday night | Fox News

alh1020 11-09-13 04:20 PM

You could always mark an ‘X’ in your backyard and see how close it comes to the target. Or this could be an opportune time, if it does hit the target, to make plans for an in-ground swimming pool in the backyard …………..a deep one.

alh1020 11-21-13 07:26 PM

Out-of-fuel satellite incinerated as it entered atmosphere, officials say

Officials at the European Space Agency said Monday (Nov 11, 2013) that a 2,000-pound satellite that had been steadily sinking toward Earth after it ran out of fuel last month re-entered the atmosphere Sunday, and disintegrated.

In a status report posted on the European Space Agency's website, scientists said the GOCE, or Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, re-entered Earth's atmosphere at 1:00 a.m. Central European Time Monday (7 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday) on a descending orbit pass that extended across Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica.

"As expected, the satellite disintegrated in the high atmosphere and no damage to property has been reported," the report said.

The agency earlier estimated on its website that about 25 percent of the spacecraft survived re-entry and has fallen into the ocean.

"By the time you read this, the spacecraft's amazing flight will, most likely, have come to an end," spokesman Daniel Scuka wrote in an update posted around 6:45 p.m. on the agency's website.

GOCE had been orbiting Earth since March 2009 at the lowest altitude of any research satellite. With a sleek, aerodynamic design meant to eliminate drag on the craft from the planet -- it's been called the "Ferrari of space" -- GOCE has mapped variations in Earth’s gravity, creating a model of the planet's "geoid."

The satellite was 17.4 feet long, according to the European Space Agency. A 2014 Chevrolet Suburban is 18.5 feet long, including the bumpers. The slim satellite was only 1/3 the weight of the truck, however.

As far as anyone knows, falling space debris has never injured anyone -- although one woman came dangerously close. Nor has significant property damage been reported.

Link to story: Out-of-fuel satellite incinerated as it entered atmosphere, officials say | Fox News

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