A month after avoiding a deadly collision with NASA’s UARS satellite, the citizens of the world have a new piece of falling space junk to worry about. The German satellite ROSAT is expected to hit earth this weekend.
And according to European Space Agency, the ROSAT satellite poses a greater risk of hitting someone on earth.
The ESA puts the odds at 1 in 2,000 that someone will be knocked on the head by a piece of the ROSAT satellite. NASA said that there was a 1 in 3,200 chance that the UARS satellite would hit someone. Fortunately, the UARS satellite crashed harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean.
Heiner Klinkrad, head of the European Space Agency’s space debris office, said that despite the higher risk, the ROSAT satellite still has a relatively low chance of harming anyone.
“We accept risks in everyday life that are many orders of magnitude higher than the risks we incur from reentering space objects.”
National Geographic reports that experts aren’t exactly sure when or where the ROSAT satellite will land. The European Space Agency expects the satellite to enter earth’s orbit early Sunday morning, but Klinkrad notes that it’s possible for the satellite to enter up to 24 hours before or after the expected time. As to where, that’s anyone’s guess. Scientists believe that debris will fall within 53 degrees north latitude and 53 degrees south latitude.
The Washington Post reports that the ROSAT Satellite, which weighs 2.4 tons, will enter the atmosphere at about 17,000 mph. Some of the mass will disintegrate upon re-entry, but the 1.7 ton heat resistant mirror is expected to stay in tact.
So if you see a fast approaching ball of light in the wee hours of Sunday morning… run.
Are you worried about the ROSAT satellite?