Monday, 16 January 2012

Phobos-Grunt and I

I had known about the impending crash of the failed Russian space probe, Phobos-Grunt, since about two weeks ago after reading about it on the Internet. Sooner or later, the news reports said, the probe would come crashing down to the earth as gravity exerted a greater influence on it. After its launch sometime ago, it had failed two burns of its engine which would have taken the probe on its way to Mars. But never mind about all that.

I had given this story little thought but about three days ago, something started disturbing me deep inside. Suddenly, Phobos-Grunt came into my mind again. Why? I don't really know. Maybe, it was that survivor instinct in everyone of us. What started me worrying was the revelation that the Russians - nor anyone else - could predict the exact path of the probe's fiery re-entry into the atmosphere. Except for the northern American continent, no other country on the earth was safe. The Russians said that the path was unpredictable because of several variables in the atmosphere. Even the sun spots could affect the re-entry stage. The only broad certainty was that it would hit the surface sometime between two o'clock and six o'clock this morning. But where? Still, nobody could say.

So it was with some concern that I went to bed last night. There was no where to run even if I had wanted to; there was no where to hide. If you were supposed to get hit, you will get it no matter where you are. Thus, it was a big relief this morning to wake up and check that I am still in one piece, my wife was next to me, my son was sleeping in his room, the house was still standing, the birds were chirping outside the window, the neighbourhood was intact, the Internet was still functioning and the news that the probe broke up and is now about 1,200 kilometres somewhere to the west of the Chilean coast.

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