If you see this thing plummeting down on you Friday afternoon, we’ll help you account for it:
Here is the forecast as of Thursday evening:
While North America appears to be off the hook, scientists are scrambling to pinpoint exactly where and when a dead NASA climate satellite will plummet back to Earth on Friday. The 6-ton, bus-sized satellite is expected to break into more than a hundred pieces as it plunges through the atmosphere, most of it burning up.
But if you’re hoping for a glimpse, the odds are slim. Most sightings occur by chance because the re-entry path can’t be predicted early enough to alert people, said Canadian Ted Molczan, who tracks satellites for a hobby. . . .
The best guess so far is that the 20-year-old Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite will hit sometime on Friday afternoon Eastern time. The latest calculations indicate that it will not be over the United States, Canada and Mexico during that time. Until Thursday, every continent but Antarctic was a potential target. Predicting where and when the freefalling satellite will land is an imprecise science, but officials should be able to narrow it down a few hours ahead.
While most of the satellite pieces will disintegrate, 26 large metal chunks – the largest about 300 pounds – are expected to survive, hit and scatter somewhere on the planet. With nearly three-quarters of the world covered in water, chances are that it will be a splashdown. . . .
The odds of someone somewhere on Earth getting struck by the NASA satellite are 1 in 3,200. But any one person’s odds are astronomically lower – 1 in 21 trillion.
UPDATE: The satellite apparently came down in the Pacific Ocean, near the west coast. See. Once again you worried about something but nothing happened.