London: Scientists have warned that there’s another more dangerous one coming to smash our planet by the end of next month.
Experts believe a defunct German space telescope may collide with Earth less than five weeks after US satellite UARS hits the planet, the Telegraph reported.
The 2.4-ton Rontgensatellite, or ROSAT, has been spinning aimlessly through space for 12 years after it was switched off in 1999 after its guidance system broke.
With its orbit bringing it inexorably closer to Earth, the authorities initially thought it would burn up entirely on re-entry.
However, it is now believed that pieces of space junk weighing up to 400kg could smash into the planet’s surface as early as the end of October.
They say ROSAT’s pieces are almost three times heavier than the biggest chunk of UARS.
NASA experts have calculated that ROSAT is more than 50pc more likely to cause death, injury or property damage on Earth than UARS, although the chance is still 2,000 to one.
UARS is heading for Earth in a potentially deadly shower of 26 pieces but there are estimated to be 30 chunks in the second strike next month.
A spokesman for German firm DLR, which built the space telescope, said the telescope’s huge mirrors were the objects most likely to survive re-entry.
“ROSAT has a large mirror structure that survives high re-entry temperatures,” Heiner Klinkrad, the head of the space debris office at the European Space Agency, told New Scientist magazine.
And experts also warned that ROSAT would not be the last to hit because solar activity next year is likely to damage far more ageing spacecraft and send them plummeting to Earth.