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German satellite to strike Earth Saturday night

RIA Novosti

14:44 22/10/2011

MOSCOW, October 22 (RIA Novosti) - Parts of Germany's x-ray telescope ROSAT are to crash to Earth on Saturday night, the country's DLR space agency has reported.

According to specialists following satellites falling from space, ROSAT is presently located at 170 kilometers above the Earth's surface and some 30 pieces weighing around 1.6 tons will strike the surface along an 80-kilometer-wide path somewhere between Germany's capital of Berlin and Russia's city of Samara.

The satellite will begin hitting the surface between 10:00 p.m. Moscow time [18:00 GMT] on Saturday and 4:00 p.m. Moscow time [12:00 GMT] on Sunday.

ROSAT, put into orbit in 1990 and weighing a total 2.4 tons, is one of the last "heavyweight" satellites launched in the 1990s by NASA. The last to fall to the Earth's surface was the U.S. Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) that weiged 6.5 tons and hit Earth on September 24.

The German x-ray satellite's mirrors, optics, and instruments have excellent protection against overheating and will not burn up when entering the atmosphere.

The chances of satellite debris injuring anyone on the ground are approximately 1:2,000; whereas with the UARS satellite, it was 1:3,200.

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