The massive ROSAT X-ray space telescope is making its final spiralling orbits around Earth. Most experts agree that re-entry will occur during the early hours of Oct. 23rd over a still-unknown region of our planet. Meanwhile, the satellite can still be seen slicing brightly through the night sky.
Some skywatchers have seen it glowing more brightly than a first magnitude star. Derek Breit of Morgan Hill, California, witnessed a brilliant flare on Oct 18th, which he recorded in this 14 MB video. The increase in brightness was probably caused by sunlight glinting off one of ROSAT’s flat surfaces.
According to the DLR (the German space agency), which operated the observatory while it was active in the 1990s, as many as 30 pieces of debris could reach Earth’s surface. Of the telescope’s heat-resistant mirror assembly — 1.6 metric tons in all — which could hit the ground intact at hundreds of miles per hour. Odds favor an ocean splashdown or a land impact in sparsely inhabited wilderness. (SpaceWeather)
Check out our earlier post for additional info!
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