22 September 2011

Retire to a cave?

Don't know about you but this seems a bit iffy. The Guardian reports:

Much of Nasa's nearly six-tonne Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) will disintegrate as it hurtles through the atmosphere, but the space agency anticipates that 26 potentially hazardous parts, weighing a total of 532kg, could remain intact and impact on the surface. The debris will spread over an estimated 500 miles.

Among the parts expected to survive the fiery re-entry are four titanium fuel tanks, four steel flywheel rims and an aluminium structure that alone weighs 158kg. Depending on their size and shape, the components will strike at speeds of between 55mph (90kph) and 240mph (385kph).


Noting that safety was its top priority, Nasa declared the odds of someone being struck by a falling part of the spacecraft at one in 3,200.

Odds of one in 3200 seem a bit on the short side for comfort. Admittedly the chances of any particular individual being dumped on are verging on the infinitesimal but nobody is ruling out the possibility. An uncomfortable thought ...


More on the matter (here):

Oh my God! What if one lands on me? The odds are approximately 1 in 3,200, according to Nasa.

Remind me again, for comparison purposes, what my odds are of winning the lottery. For all six numbers, one in 13,983,816.

Hmmm. That's sobering for a couple of reasons. What about being eaten by a shark? One in 11 million.

So I should be 3,400 times more afraid of this satellite than I was after I saw Jaws. I'm struggling to see how you worked that out.

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