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Image of 13-Ton Russian Spacecraft As It Falls to Earth—Impact As Early As Tomorrow

Illustration for article titled Image of 13-Ton Russian Spacecraft As It Falls to Earth—Impact As Early As Tomorrow

The Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques has taken this hot picture of the Russian Mars 13-ton probe Phobos-Grunt as it falls to planet Earth. It may hit tomorrow, but we still don't know where.


According to the latest tracking data and calculations, re-entry is expected from tomorrow to Tuesday. Phobos-Grunt is now orbiting Earth 16 times a day. Scientists don't know where the impact site is going to be, but it lies "somewhere between the 51st North latitude and the 51st Latitude south."

They would only be able to pinpoint the area "a few hours before the actual crash."


The spacecraft carries 11 tons of lethal dimethylhydrazine and dinitrogen tetroxide fuel on its deposits (the ring on the left of the image). There's no reason to panic about this, according to the head of the department for space observation Dr. Ludger Leushacke: while the dimethylhydrazine is highly toxic it's also highly flammable, so we can assume it will burn entirely on re-entry.

But while the fuel will likely burn, there are parts that will not be destroyed and will collide with our planet's surface. So yes, some piece of this thing may still smash into your house's roof. [FHR (In German)]

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We're looking at this all the wrong way... do you know how much a sizable block of satellite will fetch on Ebay? (Or the black market for us Americans, who must deal with NASA's secretive service for secretive space secrets)