Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Another satellite to crash-land on Earth?

After the six-tonne UARS satellite of NASA that crashed into the Pacific ocean over a week ago, another is approaching fast for a fiery death plunge soon.
This time, it's a defunct German space telescope called ROSAT, which is set to hit the planet at the end of October or early November, scientists said.
While slightly smaller than UARS, the German satellite is expected to have more pieces survive re-entry, the Daily Mail reported.

The German space agency estimated that it has a 1-in-2000 chance of hitting someone, higher than the 1-in-3,200 odds NASA gave for UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite).
The two-and-a-half-tonne satellite, which was launched in 1990, ‘died’ in 1998 and since orbiting the Earth. The German space agency has estimated that 30 pieces of the satellite will survive re-entry and the debris may include sharp mirror shards.
The German space agency puts the odds of somebody on Earth being hurt by its satellite at 1-in-2,000, a slightly higher level of risk than was calculated for the UARS which fell in the Pacific ocean on September 24.
Again, it seems certain that information on when or where the satellite might land will be scant. Heiner Klinkrad, head of the Space Debris Office at the European Space Agency, said in a webcast posted on the German Aerospace Center's website: “It is not possible to accurately predict ROSAT's re-entry.”
"The uncertainty will decrease as the moment of re-entry approaches. It will not be possible to make any kind of reliable forecast about where the satellite will actually come down until about one or two hours before the fact."

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