Take Your Umbrella

Take your umbrella with you. Wear a hardhat. Because you never know when a giant lump of German metal is going to come down:

A huge German satellite destined to tumble from space could plunge to Earth today (Oct. 22), but it is still too soon for agency officials to know precisely where the doomed spacecraft could fall.

“Re-entry of ROSAT currently expected between 22 October 2011, 18:00 UTC (20:00 CEST) and 23 October 2011, 12:00 UTC (14:00 CEST),” German Aerospace Center officials said in an update yesterday. That places the potential impact between 2 p.m. EDT today and 8 a.m. EDT on Sunday (Oct. 23).

The 2.7-ton Roentgen Satellite, or ROSAT, is expected to break up as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, but up to 30 large pieces of the X-ray observatory, including its heat resistant mirrors and other ceramic parts, could survive the fiery journey and reach the surface of the planet, according to German aerospace officials. The total mass of these fragments is estimated to reach up to 1.9 tons (1.7 metric tons).

In its day, ROSAT was a hugely successful mission, lasting for 8 of its planed five years. There are various conspiracy theories about what broke it — I blame a friend who is a X-ray scientist. But after 21 years, it’s finally coming back

Should be quite a show.