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Anorak | The Rosat satellite, World War 3 and Daily Mail plagiarism

The Rosat satellite, World War 3 and Daily Mail plagiarism

by | 31st, January 2012

DID you know that Beijing, China, was “seven minutes from destruction’ when a 2.5 ton satellite crashed to Earth at 300mph“?

Allan Hall and Katie Silver have facts in the Daily Mail:

Seven minutes saved huge areas of Beijing from destruction last year when a 2.5 ton satellite hurtled towards earth, it has been revealed.

The Roentgen Satellite (Rosat) re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere between 01:45 and 02:15 GMT on October 23, 2011.

The Chinese capital was directly in the flight path of Germany’s research satellite Rosat when it plunged into the Bay of Bengal last October, two decades after it’s launch. The consequences of chunks of the 2.5 ton satellite falling into the city would have been catastrophic; huge craters, shattered fuel lines, explosions, wrecked buildings and untold human casualties…

A commentator named”lucky Jim” adds:

That would have been 3 world wars Germany is responsible for starting.

Silver and Hall forgot the millions dead in labour camps and on battlefields. Death would have been on a massive scale.

Parts of the satellite would likely have torn deep craters into the city, may have destroyed buildings and almost certainly would have resulted in human casualties.

Almost certainly? What happened to Beijing – population: 22million – being wiped out?

Manfred Warhaut of the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, is quoted:

“Beijing lay directly in the path of its last orbit.”

Heiner Klinkrad, head of the ESA’s Space Debris team, adds:

“Our calculations showed that, if Rosat had crashed to the ground just seven to 10 minutes later, it would have hit Beijing.”

Spokesperson Bernard Von Weyhe says that “if it hit one minute earlier it would have been in Siberia and one minute later in the Pacific Ocean“.

Seven minutes is a long way in space distances. Might it be that the Mail has picked the most densely populated place it missed to show how bad it could have been had it hit, thus creating death and mangled bodies from air? Or might it just be that the Mail’s two writers – TWO! – have read and rehashed a story from Der Spiegel, offering no accreditation?

Before the apparent plagiarism, let’s hear what Jonathan Amos noted on the BBC:

What made the redundant German craft’s return interesting was that much more debris was expected to survive all the way to the Earth’s surface. Experts had calculated that perhaps as much as 1.6 tonnes of wreckage…

Adding:

Rosat’s operating orbit meant it could have come down anywhere between 53 degrees North and South latitude – a zone that encompasses the UK in the north and the tip of South America in the south.

The New Scientist reported:

“If the core of ROSAT withstands reentry then a 1.6 tonne piece could hit Earth. But it’s more probable that parts in the mass range of hundreds of kilos will result,” says Wörner. If anyone gets injured by the telescope’s debris – the odds are 3000 to 1 of that happening – three nations will have to pay compensation, DLR points out: the US (which launched it), the UK (where the primary payload was made) and Germany (which ran the mission).

Also, the Mail had earlier reported:

The German space agency put the odds of somebody somewhere on Earth being hurt by its satellite at one in 2,000 – a slightly higher level of risk than was calculated for the NASA satellite (see box). But any one individual’s odds of being struck were one in 14 trillion, given there are 7 billion people on the planet.

Still, Der Spiegel also has bad news, reporting one day before the Mail:

Rosat weighed 2.5 tons. Normally, some 20 to 40 percent of a satellite reaches the Earth’s surface when it falls out of orbit. “But with Rosat, we knew it would be around 60 percent because it was made out of particularly heavy and durable parts,” said Klinkrad.

One day later The Mail’s TWO science experts noted:

Rosat weighed 2.5 tons. Normally, some 20 to 40 per cent of a satellite reaches the Earth’s surface when it falls out of orbit.  ‘But with Rosat, we knew it would be around 60 percent because it was made out of particularly heavy and durable parts,’ said Klinkrad.

Der Spiegel added – see above:

Parts of the satellite would likely have torn deep craters into the city, may have destroyed buildings and almost certainly would have resulted in human casualties.

A satellite falling from the sky is obviously dangerous. But the odds on it destroying Beijing seem, well, fanciful. But the Mail has its story. And it sounds a lot like Der Spiegel’s.

As it was no-one died. No-one was injured. A big satellite fell to Earth and landed harmless in the ocean. Why? Well, humanity, readers – we really can be brilliant…



Posted: 31st, January 2012 | In: Technology Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink