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Space

German Satellite To Fall From Sky 107

Posted by timothy
from the t-shirt-to-the-1st-reader-with-a-piece dept.
BBC News reports that a German satellite is soon to fall from sky. According to the article: "The Roentgen Satellite (Rosat) is due to come back to Earth at some stage over the weekend - possibly Sunday. Just as for NASA's UARS satellite, which plunged into the atmosphere in September, no one can say precisely when and where Rosat will come in. What makes the redundant German craft's return interesting is that much more debris this time is likely to survive all the way to the Earth's surface. Experts calculate that perhaps as much as 1.6 tonnes of wreckage - more than half the spacecraft's launch mass - could ride out the destructive forces of re-entry and hit the planet."
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German Satellite To Fall From Sky

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  • by felipekk (1007591) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @12:00PM (#37804668) Journal

    Finally all those people running around saying "The sky is falling" are going to be right!

  • OK, one satellite falling down every once in a while might be chalked up to physics. This must be a directed attack!

    Where is Bruce Willis when we need him?\

    (Did I get that right?)

  • That's no satellite!
  • by bryan1945 (301828) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @12:06PM (#37804708) Journal

    (Now remember, I'm saying no loss of life here) if it fell into an American football stadium at halftime. Can you imagine the special that NFL Films would make out of that. Steve Sabol: "Ohhhhhhh, and the satellite falls incomplete on the thirty yard line!" I wonder if that would make SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays of the week? Or would that be the Not Top 10 Plays of the Week? Official box score- "Game cancelled due to severe satellite weather conditions. Attendance: 54,321, plus 1 hunk of metal and a Martian." Would the home team get a Delay of Game penalty? You know how sometimes kids can run the baseball bases before/after a game? They could have an impromptu Run Around the Crater. Have the mascots do a tug of war with it? So many opportunities.

    • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Saturday October 22, 2011 @12:09PM (#37804736) Journal
      How about if it fell on some holy site that the 3 major religions are fighting over, and obliterated it completely, leaving nothing to fight over except a big smoking hole in the ground? "An act of God Allah | FSM".
      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        If it was FSM there would be sauce for all to be enjoyed. But you need to bring your own pasta.
        On a more serious side, can you imagine the 14 trillion interpretations that would come with that disaster?

        • by tomhudson (43916)

          I forgot - the world ended Friday [businessinsider.com].

          "It's not a lie or a scam, it's religion!"

          • Well, it ended because someone found out what it is for and why it is there. Therefore it was replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

        • On a more serious side, can you imagine the 14 trillion interpretations that would come with that disaster?

          Heh, very good point. I suspect most interpretations will be oddly supportive of the views of the person in question. Hardly surprising when what they're worshiping must simultaneously be Ultimate Santa and the Ultimate Cancer Fairy (and everything else in between). Small wonder it's difficult to interpret his actions.

        • by wisty (1335733)

          There's some theory on the intertubes about the "evaporative cooling" of religions - if something discredits a religion (i.e. the "imortal" founder dies), then the moderates start leaving, and only the real nutters remain, so the religion becomes even *more* extreme.

      • Then they'd just fight over another hunk of dirt. Hell, we could all live atop an infinite plane of uniform density and there'd still be folks insisting that this patch of nothingness sacred because it has a p-brane shadow of Jesus. Or Mohamed. Or a Dirichlet function. They all look the same.
        • by EdIII (1114411)

          You buffoon. How could you forget the sweat stains of Elvis? It's a serious group of people. They make a pilgrimage to their own Mecca every year, Graceland.

      • by isorox (205688)

        How about if it fell on some holy site that the 3 major religions are fighting over, and obliterated it completely, leaving nothing to fight over except a big smoking hole in the ground? "An act of God
        Allah | FSM".

        Nice idea, but I'll have to pass on that as I'm in Jerusalem at the moment, hotel's a stone's throw from the Western Wall/Dome of rock/Church of the sepulchre.

        If it can hold off until Tuesday I'll watch from a safe distance :)

      • They'll just fight for control of their holy smoking crater. These people are deranged.
      • Is it you, Mr. Westerwelle?
      • by feufeu (1109929)
        You are aware that this is a german satellite, right ? I'd expect quite a lot of fuss being made about that fact by you know who...
    • by Rei (128717)

      This whole thing seems so unavoidable. I'd think a couple hundred grams of well-placed high explosive could shred it up enough that it all breaks up in the atmosphere. Launch costs to LEO average around 10k per kg (give or take a factor of two), so it's not like that would be an absurd additional launch cost.

  • I way didn't want to trade ounces of geese crap for tons of space crap on my car.
    • I way didn't want to trade ounces of geese crap for tons of space crap on my car.

      I tell you what. You can have your stupid fucking geese back. We'll take the satellite.

      • If we're talking about the Canadian space agency, those are the same things.
      • I tell you what. You can have your stupid fucking geese back. We'll take the satellite.

        Ain't up to me - although I've met many a goose that was happy to provide me with their opinion (and bites), I've never met one that would listen to mine. Although I'm thinking they should have geese guiding the satellite to a safe splashdown; after all, the geese could routinely crap on my car right dead in the middle of the driver side windshield from an altitude of hundreds of feet without even looking.

  • Actually we're developing one from super high tensile strength aluminum that should able to protect us from both satellite space radio waves AND falling space satellite debris!
    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      Actually we're developing one from super high tensile strength aluminum that should able to protect us from both satellite space radio waves AND falling space satellite debris!

      What about the government brain control parasites they put in the water supply as eggs?

      • by JustOK (667959)

        The Eggricultural Dept stopped that. They privatized and outsourced that particular function yonks ago.

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Cool. Unfortunately your spine will be a noodle after you get hit. Bonk!

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      For just $19.95 more you can have my matching accessorized *little* high-tensile strength hat to protect your other head and related bits. Think of the future children! Don't let the mind control rays or deliberate space debris flinging harm your plumbing or little swimmers!

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @12:09PM (#37804738) Homepage
    Relevant comic: http://www.askdreldritch.com/comic687.html [askdreldritch.com]. More substantially, there's now a twitter feed with regular updates http://twitter.com/#!/ROSAT_Reentry [twitter.com]. The rate of descent is pretty fast. One thing to keep in mind is that although the chance of someone being hit by debris is around 1 in 3000 or so, the chance of a specific person being hit is much lower. It is extremely unlikely that two people will be hit so by a rough approximation, if someone is hit there is a 1 in 6 billion chance that it is you. So the chance is about 1/(3000 * 10^9)= 1 in 3 trillion. Even if one assumes a fairly high probability that when one person gets hit multiple people will get hit, the chance is still on the order of 1 in a trillion. That said, this sort of uncontrolled reentry is not ideal. But most satellites are either in higher orbits or are small enough such that everything will burn up when they reenter. Large satellites entering in an uncontrolled fashion is pretty rare.
    • Thanks for posting the twitter feed for others. I was about to do so as well as it seems like the only way to stay up to date with this.
    • by jittles (1613415)
      I RTFA and it said that the satellite may fall anywhere between the UK and the tip of south America. I was going to say your math was way off because there are a lot of people that could never be in the path of the falling satellite. Unfortunately, I was wrong about how much area this thing will cover. Of course there are still people that cannot possibly be hit, including anyone who is currently working in the Antarctic area. Possibly people in parts of the former USSR countries too, I don't know. I
    • by PPH (736903)

      It is extremely unlikely that two people will be hit

      Which is why I plan on spending the next few days underneath your girlfriend.

    • Given how frequently people are close to other people, it's not unlikely that more than one person will be directly or indirectly hit if anybody is hit.

      For example, if it lands on a moving car, it could kill everybody in the car, plus people in other cars behind it that slam into the wreckage. Even if it lands on the road without directly striking a car, it could cause a multi-car pileup.

      Or it could land on a classroom, killing a half-dozen children inside. Or it lands on top of an apartment building, ram

  • German Satellite to Fall From Sky.

    Don't they all?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      German Satellite to Fall From Sky.

      Don't they all?

      Well I hope Luna doesn't or it's going to make quite a splash.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        Well I hope Luna doesn't or it's going to make quite a splash.

        The moon's orbit is actually increasing [wikipedia.org] it's distance from Earth.

        • "The moon's orbit is actually increasing it's distance from Earth."

          Hummm... maybe she's taking a step back for a run-up.

        • by Deadstick (535032)

          The moon's orbit is actually increasing [wikipedia.org] it's distance from Earth.

          ...and Bill O'Reilly probably thinks you can't explain that.

          rj

      • by TeknoHog (164938)

        German Satellite to Fall From Sky.

        Don't they all?

        Well I hope Luna doesn't or it's going to make quite a splash.

        Since when is the Moon German [ironsky.net]?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 22, 2011 @12:40PM (#37804962)

    1.6 tones of wreckage to make it to the ground? That's quality German craftsmanship for ya, those crappy Yankee satellites just fall to bits! ;)

  • I could sure use some sweet sweet settlement money!

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      good luck suing sovereign governments, they don't pay up
      • No need to sue, though;
        Read up on the 1972 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Liability_Convention [wikipedia.org]

        The only problem is - it has never actually been tested as far as damages go. Esperance's 'littering' claim (of Skylab pieces falling on a bit of Australia) was cute but more as part of marketing than a serious claim.

        Still, one could invoke that, rather than suing from the get-go.

        • Only governments can bring claims under that treaty. You'd have to convince your government to file a claim on your behalf (and they might still need to go to the "world court" over it).

      • If they have assets within the jurisdiction of the court they do.

  • A bright comet fell into the sun on October 2, 2011 in synch with a coronal mass ejection bursting out on the other side. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/comet-cme.html [nasa.gov] Just wondering. Solar wind and all.
    • A bright comet fell into the sun on October 2, 2011 in synch with a coronal mass ejection bursting out on the other side.

      FUD:

      While it looks to the casual observer that the comet triggered the ejection, the apparent relationship between an incoming comet and a CME is only a coincidence. At this stage of the solar cycle, the sun is producing many mass ejections -- in fact there were several earlier in the day

      • A bright comet fell into the sun on October 2, 2011 in synch with a coronal mass ejection bursting out on the other side.

        FUD:

        While it looks to the casual observer that the comet triggered the ejection, the apparent relationship between an incoming comet and a CME is only a coincidence. At this stage of the solar cycle, the sun is producing many mass ejections -- in fact there were several earlier in the day

        Consider, it would take light over 4 seconds to cross from one side of the sun to the other (if it were crossing vacuum and the sun weren't in the way)... That tiny comet hitting one side couldn't possibly cause a CME to blow off the other side in less than a second.

        • Consider, it would take light over 4 seconds to cross from one side of the sun to the other (if it were crossing vacuum and the sun weren't in the way)... That tiny comet hitting one side couldn't possibly cause a CME to blow off the other side in less than a second.

          From the scale of the image, then either the comet was traveling at faster than C or the video was sped up. The CME occurs a slight delay after where the comet would be had the Sun not been in the way, accounting for scale and video speed.

  • That's no satellite, that's the Nazis returning [ironsky.net]!
    • Troll, huh? Hardly. You see, O benighted moderator, it's a reference to the plot of a movie that's coming out next year that some people think is interesting in part because it's being released under a Creative Commons license. Of course, if you'd clicked the link before modding me down, you'd have known that.
      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        Or if you're a geek of the board game variety you've seen the matching board game demoed at Essen.

  • May God help them if that thing carried the Spice Channel!

  • How much would that fetch on eBay?
  • "Experts calculate that perhaps as much as 1.6 tonnes of wreckage - more than half the spacecraft's launch mass - could ride out the destructive forces of re-entry and hit the planet."

    Freaking German engineering. Do they do that just to show off? Thank god for that land war in winter.

  • .. we are concerned that a chunk of this might hit the Alaskan Way Viaduct [seattlepi.com].

  • Confirmed now as down, exact location where it went down still unknown. See http://spacepolicyonline.com/pages/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1960:rosat-is-down&catid=91:news&Itemid=84 [spacepolicyonline.com].
  • According to this Business Week article [businessweek.com], ROSAT's failure was brought about (accidentally or otherwise) by a cyber attack on NASA allegedly originating from Russia,

    In 1998 a U.S.-German satellite known as ROSAT, used for peering into deep space, was rendered useless after it turned suddenly toward the sun. NASA investigators later determined that the accident was linked to a cyber-intrusion at the Goddard Space Flight Center in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. The interloper sent information to computers in Moscow, NASA documents show. U.S. investigators fear the data ended up in the hands of a Russian spy agency.

    And i used to laugh at that satellite "hacking" scene in "Antitrust".

  • Does it worry anyone else that this satellite shares a name with a unit of ionizing radiation?

    I mean, sure, probably the sat was named after WIlhelm just like the unit, but this is definitely a case where absorbing just one roentgen would almost certainly be fatal.

  • It re-entered sunday 23rd between 1:45 and 2:15 am UTC (22nd 9:45 - 10:15 pm EDT): http://www.spaceflight101.com/rosat-re-entry-information.html [spaceflight101.com]
  • "falling satellites from the sky" is the new thing to be afraid of. So long, "terrorism".

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"

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