The defunct UARS satellite that fell over the Pacific Ocean near Christmas Island last week on Saturday sparked some universal murmur. However, it is not the only spacecraft showered out of space; another dead, drifting satellite is making a beeline for Earth. A former German X-ray space observatory, named the Roentgen Satellite or ROSAT, will fall to Earth sometime in early November, according to officials at the German Aerospace Center. Any prediction about the exact time and place where debris from the satellite will land, will remain doubtful until roughly 2 hours previous to it hits Earth.
The German ROSAT satellite, weighing about 2.4-ton was launched in 1990 and it died in 1998. The spacecraft’s orbit swings between the latitudes of 53 degrees north and south, which means any debris of the satellite could fall anywhere in a huge area of the Earth – stretching from Canada to South America, as said by the German Aerospace officials. As figured out by the German space agency, up to 30 large pieces of the satellite weighing less than 2 tons could survive through Earth’s atmosphere. Sharp mirror shards may be included in the debris.
So far, no serious injuries or casualties have been reported from falling space debris but the German space agency puts the odds of personal injury or property damage on Earth by its satellite at 1-in-2,000, somewhat higher level of hazard than was considered for the NASA satellite.