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ROSAT Satellite Set to Re-enter Earth’s Atmosphere

October 17, 2011 Leave a comment

During its mission, the ROentgen SATellite (ROSAT) performed its observations in an elliptical orbit at distances of between 585 and 565 kilometres above the surface of the Earth. Since its decommissioning, atmospheric drag has caused the satellite to lose altitude. In June 2011, it was at a distance of only about 327 kilometres above the ground. Due to the fact that ROSAT does not have a propulsion system on board, it was not possible to manoeuvre the satellite to perform a controlled re-entry at the end of its mission in 1999. When the spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere at a speed of approximately 28,000 kilometres per hour, the X-ray observatory will break up into fragments, some of which will burn up by the extreme heat. The latest studies reveal that it is possible that up to 30 individual pieces weighing a total of 1.7 tons may reach the surface of the Earth. The largest single fragment will probably be the telescope’s mirror, which is very heat resistant and may weigh up to 1.7 tons.

Full Story: http://www.dlr.de/dlr/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-10432/620_read-830/