Six-Ton Satellite Ready to Hit Earth: 1 in 3,200 Chance it Hits You


NASA is warning the world that a six and a half ton satellite the size of a bus is falling out of its orbit and will crash somewhere on Earth on Friday at about 3 p.m. Pacific Time.

NASA said the odds of anyone being hit by the 26 chunks expected to survive re-entry are one in 3,200. You like those odds?

Usually the odds of things like this are millions to one, sometimes billions. One in 3,200? That's a little too close for comfort.

But The Seattle Times reports that the odds of a particular person, "in other words, you" of being hit are in the trillions, according to NASA. That's good if you are the selfish type.

Experts say we shouldn't be concerned. They point out that space junk falls from the sky every day. Items as heavy as 1,000 pounds land on Earth at least once a week.

"The UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) re-entry hazard is being overhyped," said Don Kessler, a retired NASA orbital debris researcher.

"It's business as usual for us here," said Maj. Michael Duncan, deputy chief of space situational awareness at the Joint Space Operations Center of U.S. Strategic Command at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is tracking the falling satellite for NASA.

In fact, in the 50 years of man putting stuff up in space, just one human being has ever reported being hit by space debris on its way back down -- in 1997, a Tulsa woman was brushed by a small bit of metal mesh believed to have come from a Delta II rocket.

"I think I was blessed that it doesn't weigh that much," Lottie Williams told NPR on Wednesday. "That was one of the weirdest things that ever happened to me."


Popular Video