Monday, September 12, 2011

Look out, it's raining gold (again)

Just last week I read the news that scientists now believe virtually all of Earth's gold and platinum reserves were deposited on the planet as a result of meteor impactsover a 200 million year period.

I guess that's pretty interesting -- but even more interesting (and worrying) is the fact that we're about to get another big lump of gold possibly dumped on our heads and it could arrive as soon as the end of the month.

What am I talking about?

Well NASA has warned that one of its satellites, worth a cool billion NZ dollars, is about to fall from the sky and plummet to earth in an uncontrolled fireball of flaming metal. Some of that metal will actually be gold.

The upper atmosphere research satellite is a 20 year old lump of orbiting space instrumentation that weighs an astonishing 6 tonnes and is expected to start falling earthwards within weeks as its decaying orbit brings it into contact with the upper layers of the planet's atmosphere.

Although NASA is working hard to downplay the level of risk to those over whose head this lump of metal is orbiting, they do admit that about half a tonne of the original six, is likely to make it intact through the fiery descent. If that lump of metal were to hit a population centre, the results would not be at all pretty.

But fear-not. Those NASA guys have crunched the numbers and come to the conclusion that there is just a 1 in 3,200 chance of anyone actually being hit by a piece of this falling satellite -- and even then, it might not kill them -- perhaps just inflicting a minor flesh-wound.

How reassuring ;-)

If you're still worried -- you can check out the official NASA advisory.

Some have predicted that Europe will be right in the middle of the possible impact zone but NASA simply tell us that there will be a "debris footprint" some 500 miles long and that the impact could be anywhere in a zone between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south of the equator.

So, even if you didn't win Lotto this week, you might still be in luck around the end of the month. Who knows, a big chunk of gold could land in your back yard.

What should you do if this happens?

Well NASA say: "Do not touch it. Contact a local law enforcement official for assistance".

Yeah, right! eBay here we come! This lump of metal will likely be worth more than gold.

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