Here’s something interesting…
This Saturday I was looking at some timelapse video from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope’s Cloudcam… those are beautiful in their own right, but really I was interested in seeing if there was any visual of the reentering UARS. After doing some time-zone math, I realized that the satellite would be reentering before it was really dark over Hawaii, but I did see something unusual in this sequence from the 23rd-24th:
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If you notice, around 21:33 HST (about 30 seconds in) in the video, there are some “ripples” high in the atmosphere visible in the upper left of the frame. These extend for some time before dissipating completely. Could that be a “shockwave” from the reentering UARS, further north and east on the globe? Based on this trajectory map, UARS could have reentered the atmosphere not too far from that site.
NASA scientists still aren’t exactly sure where and when UARS came down, but it’s suspected all remains went into the Pacific Ocean west of Canada.
I’m looking into this with those much more specialized in such things than I am. Stay tuned…
Video credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (Check out the original HD version on the site here.)
UPDATE: I am being told by a couple of experts that this may be “just” a case of high-level cirrus clouds, or else something created by the video compression. Not sure, I think I am going to look into it a bit further.
UPDATE 2: It’s 99% surely cirrus clouds. After hearing back from several reputable expert sources, and seeing where the UARS eventually did enter the atmosphere (off the eastern coast of Africa) it’s definitely not shock waves. Oh well. But that’s how you find things out… asking the right people their thoughts!