Safe From Falling Satellites?

A U.S. military spy satellite the size of a school bus is falling. Without power, the controllers on the ground no longer can ensure it comes down in a controlled manner into the ocean. It could hit the ground in a month. At present, its unknown when or where it might hit.

The largest uncontrolled re-entry by a NASA spacecraft was Skylab, the 78-ton abandoned space station that fell from orbit in 1979. Its debris dropped harmlessly into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia.

This quote got me thinking… Assuming this object comes down anywhere on the surface of the Earth, what are the odds of it hitting 1) a major city, 2) a populated area, 3) anyone, or 4) harmless to any human life? It seems to me the highest odds are on #4. Consider: 71% of the surface of the Earth is covered by water. So the only risk is it hitting a ship. The odds of #4 would be at the lowest 65-70%. People tend to congregate in groups up to tens of millions. Even farmland makes up only 40% of the land. Probably populated areas would not even get us to 50% of the land surface area.

Probably since the odds are so low anyone will be hit is the reason for the lack of “OMG we’re going to die!”

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