Dead NASA Satellite Falling Fast

Dante Vittone

Look out above, Charger Bulletin readers. Reports say that a dead NASA satellite that has been in the sky for approximately 20 years is going to be falling back to Earth soon. The satellite, known internally as a Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, ran out of fuel in 2005, and it has been drifting around our planet ever since.

Although the satellite, being six tons, is much smaller than the 135-ton Russian space station Mir which fell to Earth in 2001, NASA scientists say that there is a one in 3200 chance someone could be hurt by some of the falling debris. Most of the device will burn up in the atmosphere, but still, precautions are being taken. Some may wonder if the extremely high odds should be worried about. This ratio applies to any of the nearly seven billion people on Earth. Therefore, the chances that any one person will be hit are about one in 21 trillion.

Regardless of the fact that much larger objects have fallen before, this story is noteworthy because NASA implemented a rule saying that the chance of any satellite hitting someone has to be higher than one in 10,000. This satellite, however, was launched in 1991, before this rule was implemented.

While NASA isn’t sure where pieces of the satellite will land, they estimate that the pieces will scatter over a 500-mile-wide region. Should any person find a piece of the satellite on the ground, it would be wise not to touch it. While there is probably no hazardous material left, it’s hard to be completely sure.