Last month, we all went into a tailspin after hearing that a 12,500-pound NASA satellite the size of a school bus was falling toward Earth, would crash to the surface somewhere, and NASA couldn’t say exactly where.
Well, things turned out okay — the decommissioned UARS satellite came down around midnight on a Friday somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean.
But now, the Germans say their defunct ROSAT satellite is plummeting to earth, too. The telescope is expected to make reentry sometime between Friday and Tuesday, and LiveScience reports that the Americas are its target
Don’t worry, though, because German scientists say they learned a lot from the way NASA's UARS satellite came down. This from the chief of Germany’s space agency:
We know now a little better how to interpret all the data and use the global network...It was an advantage that the satellite came down before so that now we can look at how to deal with ROSAT and how we deal with this in the future.
Both UARS and ROSAT launched before the international community decided the odds of a person being injured by a satellite need to be better than 1-in-10,000. Now, if the odds are lower, action is taken to prevent the uncontrolled re-entry of a satellite.
While on its mission, ROSAT accomplished quite a bit — discovering that comets emit X-rays, and mapping some 110,000 stars, supernovas and cosmic ray sources of X-rays.