We may have all survived the less than graceful return of NASA’s UARS satellite a month ago, but you’ll want to keep your eyes on the skies this weekend since we’re not out of the clear yet.
Back in September we reported that the German Roentgen Satellite, or Rosat, was expected to come careening through our atmosphere sometime in late October or early November. Like the UARS, no one really knows when and where the Rosat is exactly going to rain on mankind’s weekend parade, but most recent educated guesses have it coming down sometime on Sunday, anywhere between fifty three degrees north and south. Which is roughly a swath of land stretching from the northern tip of the United Kingdom to the southern tip of South America, or in other words, pretty much anywhere on Earth.
Don’t get too cocky about surviving that last satellite attack, though. The Rosat, which was shut down in February of 1999 and has been in descent ever since, isn’t expected to completely burn up on re-entry. In fact, because of the German Space Agency’s use of more robust materials, it’s calculated that half of the satellite’s launch mass could hit the Earth’s surface, some 1.6 tonnes of cabon composites, stainless steel and titanium. It’s hoped that these recent incidents will lead to greater restrictions on just how much space crap can fall back to Earth in the future, but I think we just focus our efforts on engineering satellite proof umbrellas instead. [BBC News via The Atlantic]