Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Watch For Falling Skies (Or Satellites)

In case you haven't heard, a satellite will be hitting Earth in the next week. It's okay though. The odds of a piece of the 6 1/2 ton satellite striking a human are 1 in 3,200.

It is too soon to tell where the satellite will land exactly. Many of the pieces will burn up before hitting the Earth's surface, but some of the 26 pieces of the satellite are expected to hit the Earth sometime around the last week of September.

Even though the odds of part of the dead satellite striking a person are slim, the idea is baffling, right?

NASA officials say there is a 1-in-3,200 chance that a piece of UARS satellite debris could strike and injure a person on the ground. The most likely scenario is that the satellite falls somewhere over an ocean.

"Earth is big, the satellite is small; the chance of it hitting a person is very, very small," said Victoria Samson, the Washington Office Director of the Secure World Foundation, an organization dedicated to the peaceful use of outer space. "While the idea of something coming at you from outer space is unnerving, there are a lot more realistic threats we should be concerned about. The actual impact to any person is fairly minimal."

At this point, NASA cannot confirm the exact trajectory ortime of the UARS satellite's plunge, which depend on solar weather, variations in Earth's gravitational field, and the orientation of the satellite. However, as UARS' re-entry draws near NASA should be able to offer more precise predictions.

The space agency first announced the spacecraft's impending dive last week. Since then, experts have been able to refine their tracking of the satellite, and confirmed its present orbit.

To read more about satellite UARS, click here.

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