Fiery Re-Entry of Man-Made Satellite Expected Around October 23, 2011

ROSAT Re-Entry

Just when you thought it was safe to go outside again, another man-made satellite is expected to crash into the Earth sometime on or around October 23, 2011.  This time, the potential noggin’ basher is the ROSAT satellite.

ROSAT was originally launched on June 1, 1990 aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral in the United States.  This satellite was a joint German, US and British mission to study x-rays.  It was originally designed to last up to five years, but ended up staying in service until it was finally shut down on February 12, 1999.

Some notable accomplishments of this satellite include conducting an all-sky x-ray survey that cataloged more that 150,000 objects, the discovery of X-ray emissions from comets, and the detection of diffuse X-ray emissions by molecular clouds.

No one knows for sure yet when and where this giant piece of space junk will crash into Earth.  Best estimates indicate that it will come down sometime between October 22nd and October 24th.  The exact location cannot be determined yet.

The Fiery Remains of a Satellite

ROSAT will produce a large fiery re-entry because this 2,400 kg satellite was constructed with some pretty tough materials including glass and ceramics.  Even more disturbing is the fact that some of these tough materials may not entirely burn up in the atmosphere – they may find their way all the way to the ground!

So keep your eyes peeled and watch out for falling space junk on or around October 23rd!  If you happen to photograph the re-entry, send us a picture – we’ll put it up on the site.

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