Categories: Satellites

ROSAT’s Crash Site Determined


The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has identified the ROSAT’s satellite final resting place as the Bay of Bengal, off South Asia. The minivan-sized satellite re-entered the atmosphere at 0150 GMT on Sunday, October 23, 2011 (9:50 p.m. EDT on Oct. 22) and any pieces of the 21-year old satellite that survived the fiery trip likely crashed into the water. However, the ROSAT_Re-entry Twitter feed reports there is still some ambiguity, and re-entry likely took place sometime between 01:50 and 01:51, with error bar of plus or minus 7 minutes. That could make a huge difference in where debris landed. (Updated with new map, below.)

No sightings of any debris have been reported. Most of ROSAT’s parts were expected to burn up in the atmosphere, but up to 30 fragments weighing a total of 1.87 tons (1.7 metric tons) may have crashed.

Map posted by ROSAT_Reentry Twitter feed, which indicated locations on re-entry path, +/- 7 mins. Still ambiguity between 01:50 and 01:51 locations

The Bay of Bengal is located between India and Myanmar.

Yesterday, some estimations put the satellite as possibly re-entering over Northern Thailand, but again, no debris was reported. DLR now says the more precise determination of the time and location of re-entry was based on the evaluation of data provided by international partners, including the USA’s Space Command.

“With the re-entry of ROSAT, one of the most successful German scientific space missions has been brought to its ultimate conclusion. The dedication of all those involved at DLR and our national and international partners was exemplary; they are all deserving of my sincere thank you,” said Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) Executive Board.

Source: DLR

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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