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In the early hours of October 23, 2011, ROSAT was engulfed in the waves of the Indian Ocean. This was the end of a success story that is unparalleled in German space exploration research. The satellite, developed and built by a team led by Joachim Trümper from the Garchingbased Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, not only found more than 150,000 new cosmic X-ray sources, it also revolutionized astronomy.
The pile of debris came from the southwest, flew over the Gulf of Bengal and finally crashed into the sea at 450 km/h. There were no witnesses. Didn't the most famous German research satellite deserve a more fitting finale? At least the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel took pity and tried to save what could be saved. In an article entitled "Directly in its Path" published on January 30, 2012, it reported that ROSAT fell to Earth "just barely missing the Chinese capital Beijing." The satellite "would likely have torn deep craters into the city." The magazine believes that the catastrophe could even have damaged German-Chinese relations. Joachim Trümper smiles broadly when confronted with this: "The likelihood of a single person being injured was roughly one in ten billion."
ROSAT - Hint - Wistfulness - Baby - Professor
When you talk to Trümper about ROSAT, you can certainly detect a hint of wistfulness. "It was our baby," says the professor emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. The 78-year-old has dedicated more than half of his research life to the X-ray satellite. Joachim Trümper remembers the launch date on June 1, 1990 like it was yesterday, and was, of course, present at Cape Canaveral Space Center in the US. A few days before lift-off, he once again traveled in the elevator to the top of the Delta II launch system. "I took a final look at ROSAT through a...
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