ROSAT, the decommissioned German satellite that fell to Earth yesterday, broke up upon entering the atmosphere and probably scattered debris over Southeast Asia. We say, “probably,” because no one really knows where the dang thing is. The Washington Post reports ROSAT entered the atmosphere between 9:45 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. EST last night and calculations indicate it “must have crashed somewhere east of Sri Lanka over the Indian Ocean.” No need to get up, but if you could just do a quick scan around your seat for German satellite parts, that’d be really helpful.
Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told the Post that Chongqing and Chengdu, two Chinese cities with millions of inhabitants, were in the satellite’s projected path. It’s unlikely it hit a populated area, however, because no authorities have reported an impact. Like NASA’s UARS satellite that crashed into the Pacific last month, search parties will probably have to spend a long time looking before they recover any pieces of the orbiter.
Carry on with what you were doing, citizens of Earth. It looks like you got out of this jam unscathed.