Phobos-Grunt Mars probe will crash to Earth on Sunday

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London and New York are in the huge area where Russian spacecraft might land, but it is most likely to ditch in the sea

A defunct Russian spacecraft is due to re-enter the atmosphere sometime after midday (GMT) on Sunday, say scientists who are watching its orbit closely.

They cannot predict precisely where it will hit the Earth, but say the most likely scenario is that it will splash down in the ocean. However, most of the world’s major cities, including London and New York, are potentially in the firing line.

At a briefing at the Science Media Centre in London on Thursday, Richard Crowther, chief engineer at the UK Space Agency, said he was not unduly concerned by the return of the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft.

“It certainly doesn’t keep me awake at night worrying about the possibility of space debris coming through my roof,” he said. “If you look at the Earth from space, it’s mostly water. If you look at the land masses, most of the populations are concentrated around the coasts or in certain regions.

“It’s no surprise that we don’t see these re-entries occurring, even though they occur on a daily basis, because it happens mostly in the oceans or at night-time or under clouds.”

The spacecraft’s current flightpath will bring it down somewhere between 51.4° north and south of the equator – south of the latitude of Watford in the UK and Calgary in Canada, and north of the Falkland Islands….
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Written by physicsgg

January 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Posted in SPACE

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