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German telescope to crash to Earth

For the second time in about a month, earthlings have reason to fear a falling satellite.

This time it's an old German space telescope that will plunge to Earth in the coming weeks - and Canada falls within the potential impact zone.

There are many reasons to hope ROSAT steers clear of this country - 785 of them, to be exact. That's the weight in kilograms of the satellite's mirrors, equivalent to a standard-sized polar bear.

The chances of someone actually getting hit by debris from the uncontrolled satellite are hardly any different from those predicted before last month's fiery return of another satellite, which came down over the Pacific Ocean and caused no damage to humans.

NASA had calculated a 3,200-to-1 chance of that satellite causing injuries back on Earth; for the ROentgen SATellite, it's calculated at 2,000 to 1.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) advises on its website that the large X-ray observatory, the size of a mobile home, is due to re-enter the atmosphere around the end of October.

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