ROSAT is coming down in “about a month or so”.

ROSAT is coming down in “about a month or so”.

I was one of the last users of ROSAT before it ultimately failed in 1998 and was deactivated in 1999 — I used it to search for X-ray emitting young stars in the Lambda Orionis star-forming region. I was awarded 10 pointings of 27 kiloseconds each in March 1998 for my proposal.

The following is a fascinating story of ROSAT’s usefulness despite system failures:

“The ROSAT mission was designed to last for 18 months. However, it proved to be such a great success in terms of the scientific benefits it provided that the mission was extended for as long as was technically feasible. For a long time, it proved possible to offset the effects of age-related deterioration in ROSAT’s onboard systems. For example, in 1993, following the failure of gyros that control the orientation of the satellite in space, a new kind of control system was implemented. This system used the direction of the Sun and the Earth’s magnetic field to determine the spacecraft orientation. Then, in 1994, the gas supply required for the measurements conducted by the Position Sensitive Proportional Counter (PSPC) ran out, after which observations were performed using only the High Resolution Imager (HRI), an instrument that required no consumables. Finally, in 1998, the mission came to an end. The failure of a star tracker caused the remaining HRI detector to point directly at the Sun, causing irreversible damage. Since no further scientific use could be made of the satellite, it was shut down on 12 February 1999, more than eight and a half years after its launch.” —

Originally shared by Joanne Manaster

Disappointed you didn’t get hit by satellite debris? Next chance in about a month. UARS official re-entry and up next, another satellite: ROSAT