Satellite Carnage

Jesse did some analysis to see the likelihood of anyone getting hit by that falling satellite.

check it out:



No one is stacked, everyone is spread out (no two-story bldgs)
Everyone is adult (worst case, takes more area)
Avg adult human height: 166.5 cm (i took wiki’s stats by M/F and race, and average everything)
Avg adult human width: 46 cm (total guess)
People are rectangles lying down
The satellite is < or = size of a person (not true, but whatever) World Pop: 6.5 billion Earth Surface Area: 510,065,600 km^2 From that, I get a 1 in 100,000 chance that a person will be struck by the satellite Also, the chances that a PARTICULAR person will get hit (i.e. YOU) is 1.5*10-15, or 1.5 in a quadrillion NOT LIKELY BUD, and that's worst case. Well, the satellite probably has a bigger hit radius, let's say 10-12 ft, (twice the size of a person lying down), so then it would be 1 in 50K for any person, and 3 in a quadrillion for you, worst worst case. A commenter on this page pegs it at around 1 in 82,000 by a different method (so we’re pretty close).

Of course, if people ARE in a high-rise, and it comes straight down out of the sky (unlikely) in that location, it could easily take out a few hundo for MAX carnage.

3 thoughts on “Satellite Carnage

  • 2/8/2008 at 12:54 pm

    Couldn’t they just nail the sucker with a cruise missle as it re-enters? If you could blow it up and disperse it’s mass over a larger area, each individual piece would do less damage, and potentially burn up even quicker with the increased overall surface area.

  • 2/9/2008 at 8:26 pm

    My wife was quick to point out that the [unspecified] assumption that the whole thing comes down in one piece in the first place is a bad one, and that little bits are more likely to come down over a much wider area anyway. I don’t even want to speculate over how many pieces and of what size, but suffice to say, it probably increases the likelihood by some fraction that a person could be hit. However, in the article below they are quick to point out that when the Columbia shuttle came down, it reigned debris over two states and no one took a hit, not that one case proves any points.


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