German satellite Rosat crashed to Earth Saturday evening, with no reports as yet of any wreckage hitting land.
According to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), it came down between 9:45 pm and 10:15 pm on Saturday, somewhere over South-East Asia – probably in the Indian Ocean. If any fragments did hit land, it would most likely be in Myanmar or China.
The odds are, though, that a substantial portion of the X-ray telescope did indeed reach the Earth’s surface. The DLR had warned that as many as 30 pieces, weighing a total of 1.6 tons, were likely to survive re-entry.
This was more than three times as much as is believed to have survived of the UARS satellite which re-entered the atmosphere a couple of weeks earlier.
In addition, the fragments of Rosat may well have been sharp, because of the large amounts of glass and ceramics used in the satellite’s construction. The mirror on which Rosat was based was expected to form the largest fragment.
Rosat was launched in 1990 to survey the sky at X-ray frequencies, but was shut down in February 1007 when the DLR lost control.