Dead NASA Satellite Barrels Toward Earth

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — NASA is tracking one of its dead satellites (UARS) the size of a school bus.

Officials expect it to tear through the earth’s atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles an hour Friday afternoon.

But officials say it will break up into pieces.

Still sound scary?!

We went to our experts at the Carnegie Science Center’s Buhl Digital Planetarium to find out how much of a threat, if any, we could be facing.

“Some of the pieces will be considerably large,” Robert Marshall said. “It’s estimated 26 large pieces and the largest of those will be roughly 300 pounds that will actually not break up in the atmosphere.”

NASA officials say they also don’t know exactly where the debris will land. But two hours before it enters the atmosphere, they’ll have a better idea of the drop zone.

“They look at this satellite using a telescope just like ours,” Marshall said. “They’ve actually determined that it’s rotating – it’s spinning out of control and that’s due to the fact that it has no more fuel left.”

So what’s the chance that you will get hit?

“It’s not gonna land anywhere in North America and you have to remember the earth is covered 70 percent in water. So chances are it will be a splash down.

“The chances of it hitting somebody would be 1 in 3,200 and the chances of it hitting you at home would be less than a trillionth of a trillionth,” he said.

Now that we know we’re out of danger, where can we see it? We won’t!

Marshall says a fireworks display of sorts upon re-entry will be seen on the other part of the globe. We won’t see anything here in North America.

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Carnegie Science Center

  • Dave

    A trillionth of a trillionth is .0000000000000000000000001
    The chances of a person getting hit is 1 in 3200. With 530000000 people in North America, the chances of that person being you is .0000000000005896. Still small chances but orders of magnitude greater than a trillionth of a trillionth.

    But I’m not a PhD in math so perhaps my calculations are wrong.

    • Dave

      Oops, I read this as it WAS going to hit in North America. mea culpa!

  • Just Saying...

    I find it odd that these NASA folks are smart enought to calculate every scenario of likely hood someone/something will get hit with a 300 lb piece of satellite, but noone thought about the likelyhood the satellite would come barreling back down to earth.

    I also like the fact that since they ruled out North America as a “landing spot” they no longer really care (chances are it will be a splash down.). I’m sure the rest of the world loves this approach. I am just praying it doesn’t hit Iran or North Korea…that could be the start of something ugly.

  • Jim

    Reports of debris over Canada. So much for the brilliant scientists and their “not over North America”. Wonder what the newly calculated odds are…hmmmm

  • Ivanthedestroyer

    None of this Mattes if the Trajectory is a Major City. This is Nasa “Omitting Information” to throw dazzling numbers at people to hide their incompetence. Just allowing Space Junk to Go out of Control like that is CRIMINAL.

  • Ivanthedestroyer77

    I believe they have computers that can track these objects, run the orbits and rate of decent/speed algorithms to get an estimate of impact (lat/long) probabilities. They also have very sophisticated radar systems today. I think NASA is lying. They will lie, because if this satellite hits land it looks very bad for them. I think they knew it was going to be a land strike, and they knew it would be somewhere in the US.

    If they had no clue, they don’t belong in the Satellite business.

    The Obscene Casualty Estimate was calculated (to make you feel good) using total GLOBAL SQ miles, which is downright deceptive, because NASA knew the orbit (LAT/LONG) SWATH and they have projected impact estimates. The Statistics were calculated to the Obscene to make people feel safe. SQ mileage and Population in the Statistical Calculations “would have to be limited to an Orbital (Lat/Long)” plus or minus a small margin of error. That would make the casualty odds greater.

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