Saturday, 24 September 2011

Falling satellites and scary stats

Now we've passed the spring equinox, maybe the silly season is over for dumb media talk of the stats for being clobbered by a 20-year old communications satellite falling out of orbit and breaking up in the atmosphere. Did you see the number bandied about? One chance in - what was it? - 3,200 of being hit. Some reporters even said that's a bigger risk than being in a car or plane accident (no doubt they had referred to insurance company figures).

Look, guys, that was someone's calculation of the probability of an item of space debris landing in the vicinity of SOMEBODY on the planet! So, people, for you or me to be the unlucky clobber-ee, take that thirty-two hundred number and MULTIPLY IT BY SIX BILLION. Whew, had me worried there.

PS And now they're saying the poor old sat. might come down over Africa. Still, remember that a Skylab chunk descended in Western Australia couple of decades ago. Maybe don't emerge from your bomb shelter just yet.

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