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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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!”

From Dead and Buried to Reaching the Stars

What is the American fascination with Tutankhamun? Personally, I favor Ramses II. Actually, Ramses II was one of my first obsessions. I knew everything there was to know about him at seven years old. Decades later, I’ve forgotten most of what I knew.

We share the phoneme “Ra”. Ra was an Egyptian sun god probably a tie for my interest in other sun gods and goddesses such as Helios, Sól, Amaterasu and Apollo. Unlike Icarus, I longed to fly too close to the Sun. Other kids thought about becoming police officers or fighting fires. I longed to travel to inside the orbit of Mercury near our Sun. Also, I thought about traveling to other stars.

As a child, my doodles were small to fairly large battles of militaristic or science-fiction themes. I especially liked strong, impenetrable bases. Later, in high school, the doodles changed into massive dungeons and mammoth castles. The builder expressing itself?

The dreams of my childhood seemed unattainable in my youth. Certainly I gave up on them too early. However, I like where and who I am today.

We all lose

Survey: Consumers lose to online schemes – Yahoo! News:

[C]onsumers lost $630 million over the past two years to e-mail scams.

That is nothing compared to the $7.8 billion people spent on computer repair. I’m interested in how many consumers are victims of email scams. Also, the median amount lost.

Guess I’ll have to do some research at Consumer Reports and other places. 🙁

Frying Astronauts One Chromosone At a Time

A few conspiracy theorists who claim we never actually went to the Moon mention the inability of the space suits and craft of the time to hold out the cosmic radiation. Do they have enough time to gauge whether a human could survive a trip to Mars and back? Considering Mars no longer has a magnetic field (why it lost its atmosphere – I watch too much NOVA), getting to Mars will not provide a safe haven.

Maybe I am glad I didn’t become an astronaut?

Was Einstein Wrong about Space Travel? | Science Blog

While the astronaut twin is hurtling through space, Cucinotta explains, his chromosomes are exposed to penetrating cosmic rays. This can damage his telomeres—little molecular “caps” on the ends of his DNA. Here on Earth, the loss of telomeres has been linked to aging.

So far, the risk hasn’t been a major concern: The effect on shuttle and space station astronauts, if any, would be very small. These astronauts orbit inside of Earth’s protective magnetic field, which deflects most cosmic rays.

But by 2018, NASA plans to send humans outside of that protective bubble to return to the moon and eventually travel to Mars. Astronauts on those missions could be exposed to cosmic rays for weeks or months at a time. Naturally, NASA is keen to find out whether or not the danger of “radiation aging” really exists, and if so, how to handle it.

Frivolous Lawsuits

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian astrologist who says
NASA has altered her horoscope by crashing a spacecraft into a comet is suing the U.S. space agency for damages of $300 million, local media reported on Monday.

NASA deliberately crashed its probe, named Deep Impact, into the Tempel 1 comet to unleash a spray of material formed billions of years ago which scientists hope will shed new light on the composition of the solar system.

“It is obvious that elements of the comet’s orbit, and correspondingly the ephemeris, will change after the explosion, which interferes with my astrology work and distorts my horoscope,” Izvestia daily quoted astrologist Marina Bai as saying in legal documents submitted before Monday’s collision.

A spokeswoman for a Moscow district court said initial preparations for the case were underway but could not say when the hearing would begin. NASA representatives in Moscow were unavailable for comment.
Source: Russian astrologist sues NASA over comet crash

Bolding my own.

According the NASA scientists on NPR’s Science Friday, the anticipated change in the Temple 1 comet’s orbit would 33ft. Wow… that is about $10 million a ft.