The uncontrolled satellite falls towards Earth  Sciences

The uncontrolled satellite falls towards Earth Sciences

A “dead” satellite fell out of control through Earth's atmosphere on Wednesday, according to the European Space Agency, nearly thirty years after its launch. The satellite, known as ERS-2, is expected to burn up significantly upon re-entering the atmosphere.

When ERS-2 was launched in April 1995, it was the most advanced Earth observation spacecraft ever developed in Europe. The spacecraft, along with the nearly identical ERS-1, collected a wealth of valuable data about Earth's surfaces, oceans and polar ice caps, and was used to monitor natural disasters – such as severe floods or earthquakes – in remote parts of the world.

In 2011, almost 16 years after launch, the European Space Agency made the decision to end the mission. A series of maneuvers were performed to lower the satellite's average altitude and reduce the risk of collision with other satellites or space debris. The satellite also received a surface treatment to reduce the risk of fragmentation; With as little space debris as possible.

Thirteen years later, the satellite is now returning to the lower atmosphere, where it will begin to burn up and some small pieces of it will likely eventually reach Earth. Since the return of the spacecraft cannot be controlled, it is impossible to know exactly when it will happen and in what region of our planet.

Keep an eye on

Teams from ESA's European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, are monitoring the return of this second European remote sensing satellite, ERS-2. The weather forecast will be early Wednesday afternoon, with a margin of uncertainty of about fifteen hours.

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For “dead” satellites that do not have any fuel left on board, the normal return time is strongly influenced by solar activity. This affects the thickness of the atmosphere and how long it takes a ship to pass through it. Expectations are fixed Updated with it ESA Space Debris Office. There can be no interference from Earth, so ERS-2 will return in a completely normal way – a common phenomenon, with one spacecraft per month on average returning to Earth's atmosphere.

Previous returns for ESA's observing satellite include GOCE in 2013 and the historic first-ever return of Aeolus in 2023. Two more ESA spacecraft will return in 2024: OPS-SAT and Cluster-II (FM2).

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