The chances are pretty slim that a piece of NASA’s UARS satellite falls on your head in the next month or two, but it is possible. NASA said today that your odds of being hit by the satellite are 1 in 21 trillion. But the chances of the satellite hitting someone, somewhere on the planet, are 1 in 3,200.
Gene Stansbery,a member of the NASA orbital debris office, said:
“Things have been re-entering ever since the dawn of the Space Age; to date nobody has been injured by anything that’s re-entered. That doesn’t mean we’re not concerned.”
The UARS, or Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, was launched in 2001. NASA planned to ditch the satellite in the Pacific Ocean in 2005, but the satellite ran out of fuel. The satellite has been getting closer to closer to earth and is currently orbiting earth at an altitude of about 150 miles.
ABC reports that UARS weighed six tons when it was launched. The satellite will fall to earth in pieces and NASA says that some of the metal chunks could be as big as 1,200 pounds.
But NASA says that the falling satellite is more of a PR problem than an actual threat. There are approximately 7 billion people on earth but we only take up about 5% of the space on earth. 70% of the earth is water and most of the land area is comprised of mountains, deserts, tundra, and open farmland.
But that doesn’t mean that authorities aren’t worried, especially since they have no idea where it will hit.
Air Force Maj. Michael Duncan of the U.S. Strategic Command, said:
“We simply will not know where it’s going to come down until it comes down.”
NASA expects the UARS satellite to fall to the earth in late September or early October. They will be giving daily updates when the satellite gets closer to earth.