That Falling Satellite Has a 1-in-3,200 Chance of Killing Someone

The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite is due to hit Earth in about two days

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We don't mean to be Chicken Little, but the sky is falling. Well, not the sky itself, but a satellite in the sky. Specifically, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, hurling 115 to 120 miles above your head right now, is expected to plummet to the ground Icarus-like tomorrow afternoon. And when it does, there is a 1-in-3,200 change that it will kill someone. Science, when will your hubris cease!

That prediction, made by the real-life rocket scientists at NASA, stipulates that the tumbling satellite "could land anywhere between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south of the equator," the BBC reports. That is basically anywhere where everybody on our planet lives, as shown in the map below pointed out by Daily Intel.

So basically, no one is safe. Or, more accurately, everyone is safe because any particular individual has a negligible chance of being hit by a satellite tomorrow. Still, Friday's death-by-satellite forecast is a little too grim for NASA's comfort. "The 1 in 3,200 risk to public safety is higher than the 1 in 10,000 limit that Nasa aims for," says the BBC. Curiously, 1-in-10,000 is also the probability that you will be struck by lightning in your lifetime. The risk of death from any freak accident inevitably get compared to lightning strikes, doesn't it?

In any case, you can watch a video made by a Frenchman of the satellite as it plunges right toward your face. It's a fuzzy white blob at this point, so that's not as exciting as it sounds.

Update: For the record, The Washington Post crunched the numbers a bit further and found that a person's individual odds of dying from the falling satellite are 1-in-22 trillion. So make sure to bring your umbrella tomorrow.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.