Wednesday, October 19, 2011
ROSAT is Coming Down
Anyway, the ROentgen SATellite (ROSAT) is an orbiting X-ray telescope past it's "best use by" date. Sometime between October 21 and October 24 UT, it will de-orbit, plunging back to Earth as a brilliant fireball. The most likely date is the 23rd. Like the UARS, ROSAT is large enough for big chunks of the the telescope to make it back to Earth. Maybe it will be ironic and come down during the Orionids?
While exactly when and where the satellite will fall is still uncertain, you can follow it on Heavens Above, CalSky, and SpaceWeather. There's also an iPhone app to track it, and a twitter feed.
You can use the above sites to watch for ROSAT passing overhead before it falls, sadly, I won't get to see it from Adelaide.
The Bad Astronomer, The Planetary Society Blog and Universe Today all consider the ROSAT re-entry (hat tip to Jayne Stigger).