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Defunct Satellite To Fall From the Sky

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the try-not-to-get-hit dept.

NASA 168

Front page first-timer EmLomBeeNo sends word of a 6.5-ton satellite that will soon be making a quick and fiery return to Earth. From Space.com: "The huge Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere in an uncontrolled fall in late September or early October. Much of the spacecraft is expected to burn up during re-entry, but some pieces are expected to make it intact to the ground, NASA officials said. The U.S. space agency will be taking measures to inform the public about the pieces of the spacecraft that are expected to survive re-entry." According to a NASA press conference today, you have a 1-in-21 trillion chance of being hit by falling debris. Who's feeling lucky?

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168 comments

Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355590)

Every day idiots all over the U.S. throw down $1 for a 1 in 100 million chance of winning some big jackpot lottery. So, on the off chance that said idiots stumble upon a news channel while channel-surfing between "The Jersey Shore" and Maury Povich's "Primetime Baby-Daddy Special" (and assuming that they're not too high to understand what's being said), there is a pretty good chance that they'll completely ignore the "1-in-21 trillion chance" addendum and only hear the "being hit by falling debris" part. In this case, I would say the odds of them panicking, and then going out and spending the last bit of their McDonalds paychecks on booze and "Huffers Own"-brand industrial glue are pretty goddamn high.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355790)

Well, the odds of being hit by a piece or winning the lottery are pretty slim, however, the odds of finding a piece of the satellite that has an image of the Virgin Mary on it and selling it on eBay for a bunch of cash are pretty high.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355834)

Well, if you can't find the image of of Virgin Mary on SOMETHING, you're obviously are either not looking hard enough or you aren't Catholic.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355836)

Just look at Fukushima incident and the panicking idiots buying iodine in the US, China, Philippines, and elsewhere. Another example is spending hundreds of billions combating terrorism. They are worried about terrorists or nuclear plants while drink and driving or not worried about someone else killing them on the street.

People, including policy makers, are stupid and don't understand odds at all.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (2)

Skater (41976) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356510)

There was an article in the Washington Post this morning about people who are afraid to go to public events for fear of terrorist attack. I'm sure many of those very same people don't think twice about getting in a car.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356766)

Go fuck yourself, come over here and let me put you out of your misery asshole

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

Malties (1942112) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355880)

So you are saying there's a chance!

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355890)

Unwashed masses, indeed! This may be the single most elitist piece of self-righteous bluster ever posted on Slashdot!

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356066)

You should hear my take on bible-thumpers and NASCAR fans.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356280)

Not to mention Burning Man Attendees

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356786)

God, I swear I can still smell them from here.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356040)

Of course you're correct, but falls in the "why /. is terrible" category. We're talking about a press release - not some sort of Fox News sensational media reaction. At least not yet. Why jump the gun!? Because you're a pig. Be better than the people you're crapping on, man!!

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356112)

Well, anyone who dies because they got hit with a chunk of satellite should go out and buy a lottery ticket!

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356226)

I heard some girl got killed by a toilet seat from Mir when they deorbited it. But that could just be a rumor.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356500)

I heard she later became a Grim Reaper.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356140)

I think that anyone who thinks there is a single "odds" for people on the earth being hit by this satellite doesn't understand orbital mechanics. Or even sub-orbital ballistics. (E.g. The further you are from the thrower, the lower your odds of being impaled by the lawn dart.)

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356384)

I think that anyone who thinks there is a single "odds" for people on the earth being hit by this satellite doesn't understand orbital mechanics.

Sort of like the odds for being bitten by a rattlesnake tomorrow. If you live in the arizona desert and work at the zoo the odds are quite a bit higher than if you are a lawyer in alaska.

Still an aggregate odds does exist as a single number. Divide all the people who will be bitten tomorrow by the world population... and you get a number.

What that number means exactly... that's harder to say. It does mean that we shouldn't worry much about it, unless we there is a justifiable reason to think we do.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

harrytuttle777 (1720146) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356320)

The Government that is supposed to represent the best interests of the public is the same government that is selling lottery tickets to people who suck at math.

-And then there shall be a new heaven and a new Earth. And there shall be faggotry without end.
-Slashdot prayer.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356514)

Wow, you're a dick. Are you upset that you didn't win that $220 million jackpot that you so rightly deserve?

WTF is wrong with you?

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356846)

WTF is wrong with you?

Is that addressed to /. in general, or me in particular?

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356700)

Well, lessee. 7 Billion people on Earth, each one with a 1 in 21 Trillion chance of getting hit by debris. 7b/21000b = 0.000333, or 0.0333% chance that someone somewhere will get hit.

That's pretty dang high if you ask me. Especially for something that could have easily been prevented with a little foresight.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

Yaur (1069446) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357064)

shouldn't that be 1-((1 - 1/21T)^7Billion)?

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356744)

You are more likely to be hit by a falling mobile phone, or falling coins (while walking over a fairground), than being hit by falling satellite debris...

1 in 3,200 (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356824)

If there's a 1 in 21 trillion chance that an individual will be hit, and there are 7 billion people, then the odds of someone, somewhere, getting hit are 21,000,000,000,000/7,000,000,000 or 1 in 3,000.

Of course, seeing as people tend to clump together, the most likely scenario, IF someone gets hit, is that multiple people get hit - so that is also ~ 1 in 3,000.

This matches pretty well with the actual odds in the article:

There is a 1-in-3,200 chance that a person somewhere on Earth could be hit by falling satellite debris, but the odds of the UARS spacecraft re-entering over a populated area are extremely remote, NASA officials said.

A 300-pound piece of flaming satellite debris traveling at supersonic speeds is going to do more than hurt a little.

Johnson said that, on average, a spacecraft as large as UARS falls back to Earth about once a year. In 2010, a total of 400 pieces of satellites or spent rockets fell back to Earth, though most pieces either burned up during re-entry, fell into the ocean or fell over unpopulated areas, he added.

So, given that this happens every year, the odds of someone, somewhere getting hit during your lifetime are actually much better - if you only live to 50, they become 1 in 64.

Also, it's already happened that someone has been hit [guardian.co.uk] , even though the woman wasn't hurt, so the odds may be higher than "theory" alone predicts.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356868)

if you rta you will note that it's actually a 1 in 3200 chance for this particular piece of space junk, not 1 in 21 trillion as the description says.

Re:Methinks the public doesn't appreciate odds (2)

Teckla (630646) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356952)

I wonder which is worse: spending $1 in exchange for a little enjoyable fantasizing about what it would be like to be rich, or complaining endlessly on Slashdot about how stupid everyone else is.

Terrible word choice (2, Insightful)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355632)

uncontrolled fall

There's a reason why engineers shouldn't write press releases.

Re:Terrible word choice (4, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355754)

What, you would rather an engineer AND a communications major be required to produce the press release, in order for it to change from "uncontrolled fall" to either "planned gravitationally-assisted descent process" (if you were told to spin it "for") and "massive, fiery man-made meteor raining death on unsuspecting victims" (if you were told to spin it "against")?

Re:Terrible word choice (2)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356368)

What, you would rather an engineer AND a communications major be required to produce the press release, in order for it to change from "uncontrolled fall" to either "planned gravitationally-assisted descent process" (if you were told to spin it "for") and "massive, fiery man-made meteor raining death on unsuspecting victims" (if you were told to spin it "against")?

You could just call those the "CNN" and "FOX" versions.

Re:Terrible word choice (0)

bwintx (813768) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357014)

For it to be the Fox News version, there would have to be some mention of how the satellite's fall was symptomatic of "Islamofascism." Other than that, you're right on the money.

Re:Terrible word choice (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357082)

You could just call those the "CNN" and "FOX" versions.

Here's a link to the FOX News article [foxnews.com] . It says "Small risk to the public". That's paraphrased from the NASA press release that says "Extremely small risk to the public". So I guess that is some spin.

Re:Terrible word choice (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356884)

Ah yes! From the folks who brought us the "Two valued discrete dimmer switch"

Falling Debris (-1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355662)

A strong magnetic storm from our SUN could plunge hundreds of satalites and crap falling to earth. Then there would be better odds of getting hit by something.

Re:Falling Debris (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355688)

Really?

How?

Re:Falling Debris (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355954)

Didn't you ever see one of those cartoons where Wile E. Coyote tries to trick Roadrunner into eating iron shot so that he can then use a giant horseshoe magnet mounted on a car to catch him, but then somehow Wile E. Coyote ends up eating the shot and getting dragged all over the desert running into cacti as the car with the magnet careens uncontrollably about?

It's just like that.

Re:Falling Debris (1)

Whiternoise (1408981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356238)

Interestingly the Ministry of Aviation in England did a study on something similar a while ago: http://aerade.cranfield.ac.uk/ara/arc/rm/3332.pdf [cranfield.ac.uk] . They claim that attitude deviations of up to 1.5 degrees may be observed for a 3 square metre surface area (normal to the Solar radiation) and a 2.5T satellite. That's not insignificant, and if the Sun did somehow produce a sudden large outburst, akin to a cataclysmic variable, then perhaps it might be enough to push the satellites into a decaying orbit. Then again, there are a lot of integrals in that paper and I could be reading it wrong!

Re:Falling Debris (1)

Whiternoise (1408981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356390)

Although note that attitude deviation is a rotational thing (whoops, should have noticed that) - the calculations are essentially to work out the torque on the satellite, not the change in orbit height. In which case it may well be very insignificant.

Re:Falling Debris (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357052)

Yeah, I'm aware of those effects, as well as atmospheric extent expansion and contraction. That WILL affect satellites in the long run, but I can't see a major solar flare or CME causing it to rain debris all of a sudden.

Re:Falling Debris (1)

Whiternoise (1408981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357088)

Hence why I suggested unless it was an outburst on the scale of a cataclysmic variable - in which case we're all dead then anyway, probably before the satellites fall on our heads.

Chance (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355694)

So, does that mean there's actually a 1:3000 chance that someone on Earth will be struck? :)

Re:Chance (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355768)

I imagine the 1 in 21 trillion is for "you" (an individual) getting hit, not for any individual getting hit.

Re:Chance (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355936)

If every individual has a 1 in 21 trillion chance, then the odds of everyone on the planet (assuming about 7 billion) "missing their chance" are approximately 2978/2979, or about 1:3000 that at least one person will get hit.

Re:Chance (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356130)

I imagine the 1 in 21 trillion is for "you" (an individual) getting hit, not for any individual getting hit.

Yes, but, the GP is right - if each person on the Earth has a 1 in 21 trillion chance of getting hit, then the chance that one of the roughly 7 billion people on this planet will get hit is right at 1 in 3000.

Re:Chance (2, Informative)

Ruke (857276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355886)

Yep. TFA [space.com] puts the odds at about 1:3200, actually.

Re:Chance (2)

Archwyrm (670653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356300)

Well is there anything we can do? Like lie down and put a paper bag over our head or something?

Re:Chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356624)

Go find a book maker?

Re:Chance (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356736)

Spend the next 6 weeks looking up at the sky. If you see something coming toward you, run. Or you could build a bomb shelter, but you only have a couple of weeks to finish it.

Re:Chance (1)

Yaur (1069446) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357094)

Hide out in a cave til its over.

Re:Chance (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355992)

I think it means just that, but if you put that in perspective, there are much higher chances (almost sure) for somebody on Earth to be hit by a truck while sleeping in their bed (or add here any other improbable death)

Re:Chance (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356584)

Even worse! The Chinese satellite that got blasted a few years back is now 2317 traceable pieces. If the odds are for 1 piece, then odds are about 75% somebody is going to get thwacked!

Or maybe not.

Re:Chance (2)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356992)

Even worse! The Chinese satellite that got blasted a few years back is now 2317 traceable pieces. If the odds are for 1 piece, then odds are about 75% somebody is going to get thwacked!

Or maybe not.

Very much maybe not. That figure makes the assumption that none of the pieces will burn up on re-entry. Given that it's already in small pieces that will individually burn up more easily and that UARS is "huge" (I have no info on the Chinese ex-satellite, but let's assume for the moment that it was of fairly average size), the chances of being hit by a piece of that Chinese satellite are probably far lower.

Yeah, so I don't understand the decision here (4, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355746)

So apparently they used the remaining fuel a few years ago to move it into a more rapidly decaying orbit. If they had enough fuel to do that why not just deorbit the whole thing in a controlled fashion and aim it at an ocean? We've done that before. Obviously these are some very smart people but it seems weird that they'd have exactly enough fuel to put it into a rapidly decaying orbit but not enough fuel to handle that last little bit.

On the bright side, the danger from deorbiting satellites is pretty small. The biggest actual problem that has occurred when a Soviet satellite with radioactive material decided to scatter itself over a large part of Canada back in the 1970s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosmos_954 [wikipedia.org] . When the US space station Skylab pulled a similar stunt over Australia, the local government fined NASA a few hundred dollars for littering.

Re:Yeah, so I don't understand the decision here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355858)

So apparently they used the remaining fuel a few years ago to move it into a more rapidly decaying orbit. If they had enough fuel to do that why not just deorbit the whole thing in a controlled fashion and aim it at an ocean?

I'm pretty sure the thought was, "We need it out of the way, and it's hard to not hit the ocean."

Re:Yeah, so I don't understand the decision here (2)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355974)

why not just deorbit the whole thing in a controlled fashion and aim it at an ocean?

Or a Michael Bolton concert, assuming you're trying to minimise the chance of it hitting someone.

Re:Yeah, so I don't understand the decision here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356202)

It is standard practice to use up any remaining fuel to lower the orbit as much as possible. If there was enough fuel left, they would have deorbited it. My guess is there wasn't.

Re:Yeah, so I don't understand the decision here (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356568)

Perhaps actually deorbiting in a controlled manner, aiming for a particular impact zone, would take more fuel than they had, but switching to a naturally decaying orbit for the same impact zone in a number of orbits time was doable?

Re:Yeah, so I don't understand the decision here (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356676)

According to TFA they used all its fuel just getting it into a lower orbit. It's a pretty large satellite, so I imagine even that probably took a lot of fuel. Also, it's been dead since 2005, so even the de-orbit took quite a while.

Re:Yeah, so I don't understand the decision here (2)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356830)

Well, the fact that it took years to de-orbit even after lowering the orbit suggests that they just ran out of fuel.

De-orbiting a satellite takes quite a bit of fuel, actually. I doubt that most carry that much. They are trying to carry enough to get the satellite into a low enough orbit that it eventually de-orbits, so that they aren't stuck up there forever. Things like geosync satellites don't have nearly enough fuel to do even that - you'd need something resembling the booster rocket that put it in orbit to get it back down, and it might almost be as energy efficient to just send it to the moon or something.

So 1:3000 that it will hit somebody? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355772)

1 : 21,000 Billion that it will hit YOU
7 Billion People
1 : 3000 That it will hit SOMEBODY?

That seems a little high, actually.

Re:So 1:3000 that it will hit somebody? (1)

kenrblan (1388237) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355978)

That simple calculation doesn't consider geographic clustering of people. Since many people are clustered in large population centers that are outside of the predicted possible impact locations, you shouldn't include the entire world population in the reduction of personal odds to generalized odds. For instance, if it is predicted to impact the southern hemisphere, you could rule out all people except those on the African, South American, and Australian continents and islands south of the the equator.

Re:So 1:3000 that it will hit somebody? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356588)

Look at it this way. The number of meteorites that reach the surface of the earth is estimated at more than one per day. Most of them are very small, but none of them would fail to get your attention if they hit you. How many impacts on humans do you know of?

rj

Idea from epSos.de (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355804)

I will make a cross on the road in front of my house to make a bet for the landing spot.

1 in 3000 chance of SOMEONE (1)

io333 (574963) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355824)

Back of envelope calculation shows me they're saying there's a 1 in 3000 chance of some person getting hit somewhere. Or am I holding it wrong?

Re:1 in 3000 chance of SOMEONE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355884)

No, NASA did a global census of all life. The "1 in 21 Trillion" just means that the poor creature likely to be hit is a jellyfish.

Re:1 in 3000 chance of SOMEONE (1)

Ruke (857276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355914)

Yep. TFA [space.com] puts it at 1:3200, actually.

No it's 1:3200 the YOU will be hit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356354)

... but take heart, if you are hit it won't hurt me a bit.

Discworld odds? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355838)

there millon-to-one chances happens 9 of 10 times. But as this is world maybe 1 in 21 trillions is the right spot that turns it into something certain.

Re:Discworld odds? (1)

stewbee (1019450) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356272)

Nice. I just read "Guards, Guards", where they mention this sort of logic. I haven't made it through all of his books yet. (man, there's a bunch!). My chances of reading them all, however, are a million- to-one.

Re:Discworld odds? (1)

TheBig1 (966884) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356478)

I have read all that are at the local library (which I am pretty sure is almost all of them). Highly recommended: he is one of the funniest fantasy writers I have read in a long time, definitely up there with Douglas Adams (and possibly even a bit better; blasphemy, I know!).

Could be worse... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355872)

... it could be another Skylab (what a waste!) with a trajectory that drops it over, say, Europe instead of the Aussie outback.

Just what Texas needs .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355874)

Red hot material slamming to parched fields setting more of the state on fire.

Hope you have satellite insurance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355896)

I hope your home/car has coverage incase of it getting hit by a satellite....

If I get hit (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355900)

Could my family sue NASA for damages caused by negligance?

Re:If I get hit (0)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356158)

Glad to hear that's the first thing you thought of. *rolls eyes*

Re:If I get hit (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356336)

I'm going to be too dead to care probably

Re:If I get hit (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357038)

No, but you might end up in limbo having to help the recently dead to reach their final destination. You may then end up haunting your former family driving them insane and splitting them up.

Satellite Holocaust, The Movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355940)

I wonder if they can get a SciFi Channel movie out by this Saturday or will the movie version be on next Saturday?

People, PLEASE!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356002)

It's not like the sky is falling...

Measures to inform the public (4, Funny)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356034)

NASA says run, but not in a straight line.

Re:Measures to inform the public (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356580)

SERPENTINE!

Toilet Seat Girl (3, Interesting)

sacridias (2322944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356088)

Not sure how many are fans of dead like me, but the simple fact that she got nailed by a toilet seat comes to mind with this story.
Just be careful not to get hit, as you will be nicknamed toilet seat girl/boy for the remainder of your unlife.

Re:Toilet Seat Girl (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356416)

I wish I'd thought of that sooner! No mod points, but I would've +1'd you.

Re:Toilet Seat Girl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356782)

But if I get hit by falling space debris, do I get to be a reaper? Will I have to answer to Mandy Patinkin?

Odds? (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356180)

Is this the same NASA that thought there was a 1-in-100,000 chance of a catastrophic Shuttle failure?

Re:Odds? (3, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356696)

The actual odds for shuttle failure on each launch were calculated to be about 1 in 100, which ended up being pretty close to reality.

so theres 21 trillion places that this could hit (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356386)

How do they come up with that number? does that mean there are 21 trillion square whatevers of land that someone could possibly be standing? What if you are on a boat? what if you and 5 friends are on a boat is your boat 5 times more likely to get hit? WE NEED THESE DETAILS!

Those are actually frightening Odds (0)

Timmy D Programmer (704067) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356392)

It means there is about a 1 in 3 chance that "Somebody" is going to hit be debris. Not OK.

Ooops, I meant 3K (1)

Timmy D Programmer (704067) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356440)

Hehhe, amazing what 1 little letter can do.

Re:Those are actually frightening Odds (1)

TheBig1 (966884) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356492)

Umm, you are off by about 3 orders of magnitude... hint: there are not 7 trillion people on the earth.

Re:Those are actually frightening Odds (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356678)

No, it does not mean 1 in 3 chance someone is going to be hit, even by the wildest stretch of the imagination.

1 in 21 trillion is 4.7619047619047619047619047619048e-14

If we assume a world population of about 7 billion, and we fudge the math as 4.7619047619047619047619047619048e-14 * 7 billion, we get 1 in 3000 chance someone gets hit. I can only assume that you assumed a 7 trillion population and used this same incorrect math.

It is going to be a lot less than that in reality, but I can't be arsed to do the math at the moment.

We want the funct! (1)

tootalltom (1097273) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356432)

Gotta have that funct!

Taco Bell (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356458)

I hope Taco Bell puts up a target that, if hit, means everyone in the world gets a free burrito. They did it when Skylab came down.

Re:Taco Bell (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357016)

I hope Taco Bell puts up a target that, if hit, means everyone in the world gets a free burrito. They did it when Skylab came down.

That was Mir.

Playing it safe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356836)

you have a 1-in-21 trillion chance of being hit by falling debris. Who's feeling lucky?

I'm not going to risk it, I'm wearing a hat.

Why can this fall down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356916)

...yet all that other junk doesn't? I guarantee that if I step off the ISS, I'm plunging to earth, yet this other shit won't fall down? It really doesn't make sense. Fucking gravity, how come it doesn't work? Seriously.

Re:Why can this fall down... (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357072)

This might help you figure it out, or it may just confuse you further.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbits [wikipedia.org]

NASA press release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356976)

+ re-entry and risk assessment pdf!

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/uars/index.html

Watch Out George! (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#37357042)

Ellen Muth is worried about this.

For those of you who won't get this joke:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Like_Me [wikipedia.org]

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