There are those who believe you should be fully prepared for anything.
You know, the sort of folks who put chocolate, torches, and other items into a bag you normally use for workout clothing and leave it near the back door. For luck.
But how can you prepare for the entirely infinitesimal possibility that you will be hit by a piece of space junk in a couple of days?
Wait, perhaps you have been away fishing with an NBA player. So let me catch you up. NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite will be falling to earth probably on Friday. There, you’re caught up.
Because Technically Incorrect is a public service, I would like to pass on the tale of a woman who was smacked by a piece of space junk and lived to tell the tale.
Lottie Williams of Tulsa, Okla., decided to take a stroll through the park one night when, just like in so many Hollywood movies, she saw a flash in the sky and mused that it must be a shooting star.
“It was just a big ball of fire, shooting across the sky at just a fast speed,” she told NPR.
It could hardly have been a cow on its way to the moon, could it?
As it turned out, it could have been a cow on its way back from the moon. For, a short while later, she felt something tap her on the shoulder. She turned. There was no one there. Was this someone playing a little game? Was this a scene from a tawdry horror movie?
Might I add that this was 4 a.m. and I can offer you no clear reason why Williams was strolling through the park at that time. However, it happened to coincide with a small piece of burned mesh that had decided to stroll down from the sky. That mesh was the only thing Williams found when she looked around and then down.
Some might have imagined she was a fantasist. But when she sent the mesh to the Center For Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies (CFORDB), she was told that it was very probably part of the fuel tank of a Delta II rocket that had gone up on high in 1996.
Naturally, Williams is worried whether debris strikes twice. NASA, though, suggests that the falling satellite will not be passing over America at the time it makes its pleasant display of free-falling skills. It is not clear yet where it will be falling.
The CFRODB believes that Williams is the only human being to have been hit by space debris. Given some of the questionably-behaving humans in my orbit (and, no doubt, yours), I find this belief to be bizarrely optimistic. Williams is surely the only human being who knows she was hit by lunar junk.
I hope this tale gives you a little confidence that the falling metal shouldn’t do you too much damage. Truthfully, there are a couple of people who surely would be helped by a clunk on the head. And I am not referring to Charlie Sheen nor any televisual real housewife when I say this.
Should you be fortunate enough to receive a tap from a little errant metal, I hope you will contact me to tell how it felt. The most important thing is not to panic. The aliens won’t themselves be invading until November 6. Yes, the day after Anonymous takes down Facebook