Satellite will crash to Earth in six days

satellite will crash to Earth in six days

Hey there! If you've heard about a satellite making its way back to Earth, you're not alone in hoping it doesn't land on your doorstep! The European Remote Sensing 2 (ERS-2) satellite, launched by the European Space Agency back in April 1995, is set to re-enter our atmosphere soon, and scientists are keeping a close eye on its descent.

ERS-2, along with its sibling satellite ERS-1, had a big job - observing our planet from space, gathering data on everything from land surfaces to oceans, and even keeping tabs on natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. After faithfully serving for 16 years, the decision was made to retire ERS-2 and bring it back home to Earth.

But here's where it gets interesting (and a bit unpredictable): despite their best efforts, scientists can't say for sure where it will land. The European Space Agency (ESA) has tentatively marked February 19 at 5:26 pm ET as the potential crash time, but there's a 38-hour margin of error on either side.

satellite will crash to Earth in six days

ESA explains, “ERS-2 will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in mid-February 2024 once its altitude has decayed to roughly 80 km. This is almost 13 years after the deorbiting manoeuvres and well within the targeted time frame."

Now, why is it so hard to pinpoint? Well, it turns out that predicting the density of the layers of Earth's atmosphere that will cause the satellite to slow down and eventually burn up is no easy task. The atmosphere's density affects the rate of decay of the satellite's orbit - denser layers create more drag, leading to a faster decay. Plus, factors like the satellite's orientation and the surface area exposed to the atmosphere also play a role.

But don't worry too much! ESA reassures us that when the satellite does re-enter, the "vast majority" of it will burn up upon entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Any remaining bits and pieces that make it through are "most likely" to end up in the ocean.

satellite will crash to Earth in six days

So, while we can't say for sure where ERS-2 will make its final descent, rest assured that scientists are keeping a close watch, and the chances of it causing any trouble on land are pretty slim. Let's hope for a safe journey back to Earth for our trusty satellite!

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