The German satellite is larger than the NASA satellite which hit the Earth on September 23 [AFP/NASA]

The debris of a German satellite the size of a minivan is expected to hit the Earth this weekend.

The best estimate is that the Roentgen scientific research satellite will crash into the Earth some time between late Saturday and 12 GMT on Sunday, according to Andreas Schuetz, a spokesman for the German Aerospace Centre.

German scientists still do not know exactly where the pieces of the satellite will hit the Earth. They say it will land between 53-degrees north and 53-degrees south, largely much of the planet outside of the poles.

Parts of the satellite will burn up during re-entry but up to 30 fragments weighing 1.87 tonnes could crash at speeds of up to 280mph.

This is much more than the debris of a NASA satellite which crashed into the Pacific Ocean in similar circumstances in September.

Scientists were expected to provide an update late on Saturday.

Source: Agencies