ROSAT: German falling satellite may re-enter earth between October 22 and 23

By on Oct 19, 2011 in Astronomy, Europe, Science Comments

Updated: October 23, 2011 11:45 a.m.

Read ROSAT: German falling satellite will not re-enter over Europe, Africa or Australia

German falling satellite, ROentgen SATellite (ROSAT) may re-enter earth between October 22 and 23 (Saturday and Sunday), with the exact time and location notably hard to predict.

German falling satellite ROSAT (Artist’s sketch)
Image Credit:

According to the official website of German Aerospace Center on Wednesday, October 19, 2011, ROSAT is currently falling back to earth and may re-enter during the said dates.

As noted in the report, atmospheric drag has caused the German satellite to lose altitude since its decommissioning in February 1999 and was at a distance of only about 327 kilometers above the ground last July.

The German satellite is being predicted to have a speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour when it re-enters the atmosphere, and may break into 30 pieces having a total weight of 1.7 tons.

ROSAT was launched on June 1, 1990 at the Cape Canaveral and performed its observations in an elliptical orbit at distances of between 565 and 585 kilometers above the surface of the Earth.

Unlike the recent fallen NASA satellite UARS that was build to analyze the atmosphere, ROSAT was created to catalog the X-ray sources in deep space. UARS had a 1-in-3,200 chance of hitting someone while the German satellite has a chance of 1-in-2,000.

As of this writing, the German space agency said that its re-entry date can only be calculated to within plus or minus two days but its time frame will be reduced as falling satellite approaches earth; and has a may fall plus or minus five hours, one day before its re-entry.

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