The control problem of space debris accumulated around the Earth keeps getting worse. First it was the uncontrolled UARS satellite of NASA. Now, in addition, it was announced that an old German named ROSATcaerá space telescope on Earth in late October, and the likelihood that injures someone, though small, are larger than those calculated for UARS.
NASA estimates that the probability that the satellite out of control injures any citizen is one in 3,200. In the case of ROSAT, the chance rises to one in 2,000. Although small, both possibilities exceed the acceptable limit by NASA, which is about one in 10,000.
Not yet known path or the location of the aircraft impact
The ROSAT is an X-ray space telescope built by the DLR German Aerospace Laboratory and launched by NASA in 1990. It weighs 2.4 tonnes and DLR explains on its website at least 30 fragments of the satellite, totaling 1.6 tons, will fall to Earth in late October. The manufacturer explains that the X-ray system, with its mirrors and mechanical support made of carbon fiber could be the heaviest piece.
Klinkrad Heiner, director of the Agency Space Debris European spatial Darmstadt (Germany), said yesterday to the digital edition of the journal New Scientist that the massive structure of the satellite mirror “altastemperaturas survive the re-entry” of the artifact in the atmosphere.
In the Earth’s orbit is about 22,000 pieces of space junk
ROSAT was deactivated in 1999 and falling since then. It has an onboard propulsion system that allows control this fall and, as in the case of UARS, the strong solar activity is changing its orbit. Therefore, experts do not know the exact time of its entry into the atmosphere and the place will fall to Earth.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently warned that the problem of space debris has increased in the last six years. In the Earth’s orbit is about 22,000 pieces of aircraft that have accumulated since the beginning of the space race, more than half a century.