The dozens of pieces of heavy debris plunging from space are throwing off scientists, and now NASA isn’t quite sure when or where bits and pieces will collide with Earth.
Scientists have been expecting remnants of an antiquated satellite to approach Earth this weekend, but NASA officials say they are seeing an unexpected change in the path of the space trash, which may or may-not be rocketing towards the United States.
A Friday afternoon tweet from the official NASA Twitter account reads, “Update – Re-entry prediction now later than expected: tonight or very early Saturday morning.” A more thorough post on the organization’s website reveals that they aren’t quite certain what will happen and note that a possibility of a crash within the confines of the US “cannot be discounted.”
NASA also acknowledged that the orientation of the satellite has changed, much to their surprise, and writes that “There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States.”
Regardless of where it hits, NASA reported earlier that the likelihood that the debris — 26 pieces, each weighing up to 300 pounds — is around one in 3,200. Though that statistic might not look too scary, when compared to data made available by the National Weather Service, the odds of a satellite section colliding with your noggin are around three times better than your chance of getting hit by lightning.
NASA says they will have a better idea of when exactly the debris will hit Earth by late Friday or early Saturday — but expect that it will hit Earth, um, sometime late Friday or early Saturday. They claim they should only be able to offer a heads up by around two ahead before impact, and even then they won’t be able to estimate the point of the incoming crash to within a few thousand miles.
In the meantime, put on a hard hat and stay indoors.