A falling German satellite is expected to hit earth this week, but just where and when debris from the dead satellite will fall is the question that space scientists are pondering.
As of now, scientists suspect that the satellite will hit the Earth sometime between Oct. 22 and 23, although German space officials are keeping the widow open to between Oct. 21 and Oct. 25.
The German Roentgen Satellite, or ROSAT, is expected to break up as it travels through Earth’s atmosphere.
Much of the satellite is expected to burn up upon the satellite's entry into the atmosphere, although some large pieces are expected to survive the massive heat of re-entry.
Jan Woerner of Germany’s space agency Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR) told Space.com, “We don’t expect big parts to re-enter, except the mirror and the glass and ceramic parts.”
The satellite is being dubbed a greater threat than NASA’s school bus sized Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) that fell to the earth last month, even though it is smaller than UARS.
UARS gained the attention of the world in September as spectators waited for any of the debris from the satellite to land in populated areas, although NASA predicted that the debris was likely to fall into the ocean.
It is predicted that the ROSAT satellite will spread three times more debris than UARS did upon its fall. It is also predicted that up to 3,750 pounds of satellite could reach the Earth’s surface, which is over 1,000 more than was expected with UARS.
According to Germany, there is a 1-in-2,000 chance that an individual on earth may be struck by a piece of ROSAT, making the likelihood for any one individual to be struck a 1-in-14 trillion chance.
Originally, it was predicted that ROSAT would fall to Earth in November, however, it now appears that the falling satellite will make it back into earth by the end of this week, although no predictions can be certain as scientists continue to observe the falling satellite.