While the man may be a so-called amateur when it comes to photography and videography, he’s a veteran skywatcher, and he, Thierry Legault, has caught something rather intriguing in his lens. What you’re about to see is a slightly fuzzy video of no less than the Russian Federal Space Agency’s failed attempt as launching a Phobos-Grunt probe to the planet Mars, it’s incomplete November initiated mission ending here as it screams back towards the Earth. Once it was launched in November, it failed to depart for Mars (presumably because it was being fussy, as no additional details have been shared,) and has been stranded in orbit ever since.
The satellite was seen to be falling towards the Earth at a rapid rate, easy to imagine since this bulky monster weighs in at a cool 14-tons. The satellite is currently falling towards the Earth heavy-side down, as Legault describes in his statement to the press. This might lead one to believe that this was the reason for the failure of the hardware, its solar panels deployed but dead, the whole bulk on the wrong side, away from the sun. Bigtime bummer for Russia – and certainly for whoever’s house this satellite lands on.
The actual uncontrolled fall into the atmosphere is placed somehwere between the 15th and 16th of January, 2012, but it’s certainly on its way to a fiery doom right this moment. Holger Krag, deputy head of the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office, at the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, had a bit to say about the situation, especially regarding the hit on land (or water.) In regards to reports popping up that the satellite might be hitting any place specifically at this moment:
“This is, of course, nonsense. It can come down at any place. [And because the Earth is 73 percent water covere,] there is a rather small chance that there would be a land impact. Relax. The likelihood of somebody being hit is enormously low. It is way smaller than to be struck by lightning. If you have a thunderstorm above your city you would also not worry too much.” – Krag