The Space.com article Failed 1970s Venus Probe Could Crash to Earth This Year describes Kosmos 482 (1972-023A, 5919), a 1972 Soviet Venus lander spacecraft that got stuck in LEO instead.
Since the probe is designed to survive the temperatures associated with entry and landing on Venus, the article discusses speculation on how resilient it will be reentering Earth's atmosphere.
The article goes on to discuss the current condition of Kosmos 482 and I don't understand what the issues are.
Like Dorman, veteran astrophotographer Ralf Vandebergh of the Netherlands has been observing the wayward spacecraft for a while — the last eight years, in fact. He told Space.com he's done a new appraisal of Cosmos 482.
"My preliminary conclusion of Cosmos 482, observing using a 10-inch aperture telescope during varying passes, viewing angles, illumination angles and observing conditions, [is that it] seems [to be] an elongated object with strong brightness variations," Vandebergh reported. "There is an indication of smaller structures, but these are unconfirmed. Despite the successful results, the mystery around the true condition of Cosmos 482 and what elements of the spacecraft exactly are still in orbit still remains unsolved."
Meanwhile, Dorman recently captured Cosmos 482 on his skywatching equipment. His imagery showed the object flaring. A spherical object such as the Venus descent capsule seemingly wouldn't flare, he said, suggesting that more of the upper spacecraft bus was still intact.
Question: What are the questions and issues here? I'm wondering if it have to do with a planned separation in Earth orbit, or something that was supposed to happen near Venus, or something that might have happened accidentally like a failure/explosion but there could be other possibilities as well.
above: Source, (Image: ©Ralf Vandebergh)
below: Source, Ralf Vandebergh of the Netherlands has been observing the wayward Cosmos 482 leftovers for the last eight years. (Image: ©Ralf Vandebergh) Click for full size.