by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Oct 19, 2011
An abandoned German satellite was expected to fall on Earth this week, but the exactly time and location remained unknown, according to media reports. The German space agency has offered a landfall time of the 2.4-ton satellite, between Oct. 21 and Oct. 25.
According to the agency, approximately 1.6 tons debris, consisting mainly of glass and ceramic fragments, could survive the journey through the atmosphere and reach the Earth's surface, at a speed of around 28,000 km per hour.
There is a 1-in-2,000 chance that the debris could strike someone on Earth, but the risk of serious injury from such an event should be extremely small, officials of the agency told media.
"We expect public attention because it's a satellite coming down, but in history, we have had much bigger debris fall," said Jan Woerner, head of the executive board of the agency.
The falling satellite, named ROSAT, was an X-ray space observatory satellite, which was launched in 1990 and abandoned in 1999 after accomplishing the mission of detecting 80,000 X-ray sources with its wide-field camera.
The latest similar event is that a dead NASA climate satellite, called the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), fell into the Pacific Ocean in late September.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
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