CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Try to remain calm.

You are one of roughly 7 billion people who could be struck by a jagged piece of metal from a dead NASA satellite tumbling from space later this month.
Statistically, there's a 1 in 3,200 chance someone could be hit by one of the 26 objects -- the biggest, more than 300 pounds -- expected to crash into Earth's surface, at possibly hundreds of miles per hour.
But NASA says the odds that person will be you are far more remote, and it's much likelier that remnants of the nearly 12,500-pound Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite will drop harmlessly into an ocean or desolate region. There's "a very, very low probability of anyone being hurt or anyone's property being damaged," said Nick Johnson, chief scientist for NASA's Orbital Debris Program at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Then why all the fuss?
NASA and the U.S. Air Force briefed reporters Friday on plans to monitor the climate satellite's movement. It's the largest NASA satellite in some time to make an uncontrolled re-entry. Debris could rain anywhere between northern Canada and southern South America, so "you've pretty much encompassed all 7 billion people on the planet," Johnson said.

If any person or property is impacted, it would be a first from manmade space debris in the more than 50 years vehicles have been launched into orbit. That's surprising, considering small objects drop from space regularly -- more than one a day on average last year, Johnson said. Most burn up and never reach Earth.

The Cosmos News Astronomy&Space Videos

LATEST NEWS VIDEOS

 
Top