Apparently, it’s satellites-crashing-to-Earth season. Space.com reports that Germany’s 2.7-ton ROSAT satellite is estimated to fall to Earth sometime between 2 p.m. EST today and 8 a.m. EST tomorrow. Last month, a decommissioned NASA satellite crashed into the Pacific Ocean, but before the impact, scientists warned there was a 1-in-3,200 chance of debris hitting a person on the ground. For today’s doomed orbital craft, German aerospace officials estimate there is a 1-in-2,000 chance it will hit somebody down here on earth. We like last month’s odds better.
ROSAT launched in 1990 and it contains an observatory with an X-ray telescope. German officials decommissioned the satellite in 1998 after it suffered a malfunction. Now it’s coming back for revenge.
ROSAT will break up into smaller pieces as it enters Earth’s atmosphere, but scientists have no idea where those pieces will land precisely. They will most likely crash into the ocean, just like NASA’s UARS satellite did on September 24th. They won’t be able to predict when it will land until hours before it actually happens, so if someone wearing a lab coat screams, “Duck!” in a German accent, you should probably follow his or her advice.
If you are panicking, Jen Doll wrote a guide on “How to Behave Upon the News that a Satellite Might, Possibly, Hit the Earth” for last month’s impact. Most of it applies to ROSAT’s plummeting ass.
Otherwise, enjoy your day.
UPDATE: Track it!
Falling German Satellite Could Hit Earth Today [SPACE.com]