What’s falling from the sky??? You should be on the lookout Friday for an unidentified flying school bus falling from the sky! Wait, WHAT?! Now for those of you who watch PBS, this is not Ms. Frizzle’s “Magic School Bus” coming back from an out-of-the-classroom experience in outer space, but just a six-ton NASA satellite – the equivalent of a yellow school bus – falling from the sky! That’s right. And to top it all off, it is anyone’s guess as to where it will land on Earth! Yikes!
Make sure to duck and cover because NASA predicts you have a 1-in-3,200 chance of getting hit! How does NASA even know where it’s going to land? Are you willing to take these death-defying odds? To the Education team here at Earth Day Network, we thought this was one of the most compelling reasons to study Earth science. Why? Because the equivalent of a school bus is falling from the sky on Friday – and humans still cannot predict where it’s going to land! Sounds like an awesome research project to us!
Though falling space debris – including unidentified falling school buses – has never injured anyone before (or at least it’s never been reported), this 20-year-old research satellite is expected to break into more than 100 pieces as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere on Friday. Most of the pieces are expected to burn up upon re-entry, with the oh-so-minor-exception of the 26 heaviest metal parts. These remnants – similar to the size of a school bus engine – are expected to reach Earth, with one of them weighing up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms).
So what does this all mean? Basically, you have a greater chance of being hit by this unidentified flying school bus than winning the lottery. Fortunately for North America (or unfortunately if you wanted to witness this meteorological/transportation “wonder” of science), NASA has ruled out North America as a crash pad, which means Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe are still potential targets. So… the majority of the world’s population: You better keep your eyes on the sky Friday for a falling school bus! The reason NASA cannot provide a more narrow prediction for a crash site is that there are still aspects of the Earth’s atmosphere, and also flying school bus wizardry, which are unexplainable to scientists. The science of predicting a tumbling satellite depends on many different variables like how strong the Sun is shinning on the given day. So be on the look-out for a falling school bus on Friday.
And make sure to share your space debris and school bus adventures with us on Facebook! Stay safe!