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You're reading: Russian space probe to crash on Earth within hours
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Roscosmos said the unmanned Phobos-Ground will crash between 1641 and 2105 GMT (11:41 a.m. and 4:05 p.m. EST). It could crash anywhere along the route of its next few orbits, which would include Europe, southeast Asia, Australia and South America. The U.S., Canada and much of Russia are outside the risk zone.

A large part of each orbit is over water, and scientists have estimated that the risks of the probe crashing into any populated areas are minimal. Thousands of pieces of derelict space vehicles orbit Earth, occasionally posing danger to astronauts and satellites in orbit, but as far as is known, no one has ever been hurt by falling space debris.

At 13.5 metric tons (14.9 tons), the Phobos-Ground is one of the heaviest pieces of space junk ever to fall on Earth, and one of the most toxic too. The bulk of its weight is a load of 11 metric tons (12 tons) of highly toxic rocket fuel intended for the long journey to the Martian moon of Phobos. It has been left unused as the probe got stuck in orbit around Earth shortly after its Nov. 9 launch.

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