German space officials are sure that their defunct X-ray telescope satellite entered the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday, but after that, scientists don't appear too certain about what happened to the piece of space junk. The Roentgen satellite, called ROSAT, did hit the atmosphere as scheduled on Sunday, according to the German Aerospace Center relayed by Fox News. But scientists haven't tracked the exact place where the satellite landed, or if it just burned up in the atmosphere. "There is currently no confirmation if pieces of debris have reached Earth's surface," read a statement by German officials carried by Fox.
If the telescope satellite did crash down somewhere, one astrophysicist, Jonathan McDowell, pinpointed Southeast Asia as a likely landing point when speaking to the Associated Press:
He said two Chinese cities with millions of inhabitants each, Chongqing and Chengdu, had been in the satellite’s projected path during its re-entry time. "But if it had come down over a populated area there probably would be reports by now," the astrophysicist, who tracks man-made space objects, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
When the German satellite was enroute to Earth it was estimated to have a 1 in 2,000 chance of actually crash landing on a person. And, like the McDowell noted, if the satellite didn't burn up in the atmosphere and had crashed into a populated area, there may have been news about it already.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.