Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011, the year of uncontrolled reentries

First UARS, then ROSAT, and now Phobos-Grunt. The apparently dead Russian Mars probe is now expected to reenter sometime around November 26th. That's 3 tons of hardware, ten tons of fuel and oxidizer (unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide), and a small amount of radioactive cobalt-57 in one science instrument. Thus the Phobos-Grunt has earned it the title of "Most toxic falling satellite ever." (via Discovery News)