A Japanese robot space cargo ship is carrying a device to "phone home" during its planned death plunge into Earth's atmosphere this week, but the equipment has a more important purpose than calling E.T. for help.
The spacecraft, Japan's unmanned cargo ship Kounotori 2, is due to intentionally burn up tomorrow (March 29 EDT) when it re-enters Earth's atmosphere one day after leaving the International Space Station. In addition to the station trash packed on Kounotori 2, a high-tech sensor is ready to track the finer details of the spacecraft's doom.
In non-sizzle lingo, the Kounotori 2 is carrying a so-called Re-entry Breakup Recorder – or REBR for short – a small and autonomous sensors built to record temperature, acceleration, rotational rate and other data during Kounotori 2's high dive into Earth’s atmosphere.