It’s raining flaming debris

by twit

in Texas:

The Federal Aviation Administration has received numerous reports of falling debris across Texas, which could be related to a recent satellite collision.

Some of the callers around midmorning Sunday reported what looked like a fireball in the sky.

FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said officials suspect the debris could be related to the collision, but he said that had not been confirmed.

but not to worry!

The U.S. Strategic Command said there was no connection to the sightings over Texas and Tuesday’s collision of satellites from the U.S. and Russia.

“There is no correlation between the debris from that collision and those reports of re-entry,” said Maj. Regina Winchester, with STRATCOM.

The FAA notified pilots on Saturday to be aware of possible space debris after a collision Tuesday between U.S. and Russian communication satellites. The chief of Russia’s Mission Control says clouds of debris from the collision will circle Earth for thousands of years and threaten numerous satellites.

the trick is to pay no attention!

Meanwhile, there’s no global air traffic control system that tracks the position of all satellites.

The U.S. military tracks some 17,000 pieces of space debris larger than 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters), along with some 900 active satellites. But its main job is protecting the international space station and other manned spacecraft, and it lacks the resources to warn all satellite operators of every possible close call.

video from CNN:

update: via slog, The National Weather Service reported debris over Kentucky on February 13, 2009:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE JACKSON KY
1145 PM EST FRI FEB 13 2009

…POSSIBLE SATELLITE DEBRIS FALLING ACROSS THE REGION…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN JACKSON HAS RECEIVED CALLS THIS EVENING FROM THE PUBLIC CONCERNING POSSIBLE EXPLOSIONS AND…OR EARTHQUAKES ACROSS THE AREA. THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION HAS REPORTED TO LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT THAT THESE EVENTS ARE BEING CAUSED BY FALLING SATELLITE DEBRIS. 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.

update: via Slashdot, a report from a local Austin news site:

Torvald Hessel with the Austin Planetarium says it’s unusual to see shooting stars in the daylight, if that’s what the object is, because it’s so bright with the sun out. He also acknowledges it could be a defunct satellite, “It actually might be possible this is debris from the two satellites that collided on Tuesday, we just don’t know yet. The FAA says it could be debris from the collision. Astronomically speaking, we thought there was a very small chance it was the satellites but now we’re rethinking that. If it is a shooting star it is big, at least a yard or two across to make that much of a spectacle.”

Hessel expects if it was a star, it would have exploded and there will be debris found. If it was satellites they would have burned up in the atmosphere according to Hessel.

Hessel warns of the potential health hazards if someone stumbles on the debris, “Potentially there will be a health Hazard if this is satellite debris, the iridium satellite should be ok and is probably most likely going to be solar power panels; the defunct Russian satellite may pose a risk.”

… The Austin Planetarium will look at the orbits of the two satellites to compare them to the path of the fireball.

updateNew Jersey, February 18, 2009:

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether a piece of hot metal that fell through the roof of a Jersey City business came from an airplane.

Previously at the Kiwi:

the “new” problem of nuclear space trash

US predicts 30-minute warning for satellite crash landing

Spy satellite update: It’s raining metal, hallelujah!

Hooray! More flaming space garbage!

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