ROSAT, a German research satellite, re-entered Earth's atmosphere over the Bay of Bengal at 9:50 p.m. EDT on Saturday, but it remains unclear whether any parts of the satellite hit the Earth's surface.
Previously it was estimated that two heavily-populated cities in southwest China - Chongqing and Chengdu - could be the possible locations where the defunct German satellite would crash. The people in these cities are relieved now that it is clear that the satellite re-entered Earth's atmosphere over somewhere between India and Myanmar.
According to German Aerospace Center, Determination of the time and location of re-entry was based on the evaluation of data provided by international partners, including the USA.
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 DLR Executive Board.
Most of the parts of the old satellite were expected to disintegrate as it entered the atmosphere. However, up to 30 pieces of debris weighing about 1.9 tons may have survived and crashed into the sea.
ROSAT's fall came shortly after a dead NASA satellite fell into the southern Pacific Ocean. NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), a 6.5-ton spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere on Sept. 24 and spread debris over an 800-kilometer area.
The ROentgen SATellite (ROSAT) was launched into orbit on June 1, 1990. It used to allow researchers to perform an all-sky survey of X-ray sources with an imaging telescope for the first time. About 80,000 cosmic X-ray sources were detected, along with 6000 sources in the extreme ultraviolet region. During its eight years of operation, more than 4000 scientists from 24 countries took advantage of the opportunity to request observations. In 1998, The ROSAT satellite was rendered useless by an accident. The nest year it was officially shut down.