Saturday, October 22, 2011

Here We Go Again!

Heads up skywatchers (and pedestrians!) Another pile of space junk will reenter Earth's atmosphere in the next 24 hours.

It's only been a month since the last satellite fell to Earth. I blogged about it for a whole weekend, beginning with "Up UARS!" on September 23rd, with "Tracking Error", "It's Late", and finally "Without a Trace" wrapping up the reentry weekend. I lost a fair amount of sleep waiting for that dead NASA Climate Satellite to come down.

NASA took it's own sweet time confirming reentry and splashdown in the South Pacific, east of Samoa.

Tonight's falling star is ROSAT a German X-Ray Telescope. Though it's much smaller than NASA's UARS, (2.65 tons vs 6.5 tons), larger and heavier pieces are predicted to reach Earth's surface because the telescope's glass and ceramic construction. The largest surviving piece is predicted to weigh almost 900 pounds.

ROSAT Germany's Röntgensatellit, named for William Röntgen who discovered X-Rays, and won the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901
I don't know who calculates the odds on these things, but they're worse than the odds of UARS hitting someone on Earth. UARS was 3200 to 1. ROSAT is coming down at 2000 to 1

ROSAT flies near the DaveCave this afternoon, fortunately at the current rate of orbital decay, it looks like ROSAT will come down in the Pacific around midnight PDT tonight.

You can follow along in real time on the internet. @ROSAT_Reentry posts hourly updates on the state of ROSAT's orbit with estimated time to reentry, and they answer questions to help followers understand the data. These are the same people that brought us @UARS_Reentry last month.

You can see ROSAT's position in real time at Real Time Satellite Tracking. To see when it will pass within view of your location, go to Heavens-Above.

Happy Reentry Watching everybody!

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