German space agency announced that a 2.5-ton space telescope called ROSAT would be tumbling home sometime in late October or early November. Earth has been told to brace for a possible satellite collision as the orbiting telescope weighing nearly three tons has spun out of control and is plummeting homewards.
ROSAT,the German X-ray telescope built with British and American technology, has been orbiting the Earth since 1990 and has provided invaluable data on stars. But they lost contact with it in 1999. It is now predicted to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at the end of this month. ROSAT was launched on June 1, 1990, from U.S. launch site Cape Canaveral for what was originally intended as an 18-month mission.
According to tallies from NASA, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), the Federal Communications Commission and other domestic and international agencies, there are currently 17,000 objects measuring 4 in. (10 cm) or greater circling the earth.
In late September, a 6-ton NASA research satellite, launched in 1991, came plummeting home, falling safely into the south Pacific, but not before causing a lot of scientists a lot of jitters as they watched the roulette wheel of the satellite’s orbit, trying to calculate just when and where the ship would lose enough energy to drop from the sky.
The landing spot of ROSAT is still unknown.