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Large satellite falls to earth today – Esa can only watch

2024-02-22T04:15:23.090Z

Highlights: Large satellite falls to earth today – Esa can only watch.. As of: February 22, 2024, 4:59 a.m By: Tanja Banner CommentsPressSplit A satellite orbits the earth. Esa currently assumes that the ERS-2 satellite will fall to Earth on February 21, 2024 at 5:32 p.m. (CET). However, this date is very imprecise - it can shift by almost five hours in any direction.



As of: February 22, 2024, 4:59 a.m

By: Tanja Banner

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A satellite orbits the earth.

(Artist's impression) © IMAGO/Zoonar

After the controlled crash of the “Aeolus” satellite, ERS-2 faces the same fate today.

This time Esa cannot intervene.

Update from February 21st, 6:35 a.m.:

The decommissioned ESA earth observation satellite ERS-2 is expected to crash this evening.

The European Space Agency Esa gives the latest estimate for the time of the crash as February 21, 2024 at 5:32 p.m. (CET).

There is currently an inaccuracy of plus/minus 4.61 hours.

This is because the density of the Earth's atmosphere can change due to difficult-to-predict solar activity, which affects how quickly a satellite is drawn to Earth.

Current crash forecast

Esa currently assumes that the ERS-2 satellite

will fall to Earth

on February 21, 2024 at 5:32 p.m. (CET) .

However, this date is very imprecise - it can shift by almost five hours in any direction.

(As of: February 20, 2024, 8:30 p.m.)

ERS-2 satellite inevitably crashes to Earth

Update from February 20th, 9:40 a.m.:

The ESA satellite ERS-2 is about to crash to Earth.

The European space agency Esa currently assumes that the satellite will crash on February 21st at 8:24 p.m. (CET).

However, this point in time can be moved forward or back by almost ten hours.

This inaccuracy in forecasting has to do with unpredictable solar activity, which can affect the density of Earth's atmosphere.

This in turn creates the air resistance to which the satellite is exposed.

The higher the air resistance, the faster the satellite falls to Earth.

Because the time window in which the satellite can crash is still large, experts cannot yet say exactly in which region ERS-2 will come down.

However, since much of the Earth is covered by the sea, it is likely that the few remnants of ERS-2 that do not burn up will fall into the sea or crash over uninhabited areas.

Esa satellite ERS-2 will crash - the exact time is still unclear

First report from February 14, 2024:

Munich - In July of last year, the European space agency Esa actively monitored the crash of a 1.3-ton satellite.

With this targeted crash of the Aeolus satellite, the organization wanted to create a standard regarding the disposal of space waste.

In fact, Esa managed to steer the satellite until shortly before its end and cause it to burn up in an uninhabited area.

However, the next satellite that is about to crash will not be able to be controlled in this way.

Nevertheless, the ESA emphasizes that the impending crash of the ERS-2 satellite, which weighs over two tons, poses no danger.

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Earth observation satellite ERS-2 is expected to fall to Earth and burn up

ERS-2, an Earth observation satellite launched into orbit in April 1995, has long been facing its inevitable crash.

When it was launched, it was considered the most advanced Earth observation spacecraft Europe had ever developed and launched, ESA said.

ERS-2 had a comprehensive view of land surfaces, oceans, polar ice caps and natural disasters, and provided key orbital data to experts on Earth.

In 2011, it was decided to shut down the satellite and remove it from Earth's orbit so as not to leave space debris behind.

Since the satellite was at an altitude of 785 kilometers at the time, this was a lengthy process.

With the remaining fuel, the satellite's orbit was reduced to 573 kilometers to minimize the risk of collision with other spacecraft or space debris and to ensure that the satellite crashes to Earth within 15 years.

Esa satellite weighing two tons is said to crash

Now that time has come: ERS-2 is getting closer and closer to Earth.

The satellite is expected to crash to Earth around mid-February 2024 - in contrast to the “Aeolus” crash, without any control by ESA.

Once the satellite reaches an altitude of about 80 kilometers, physics will take over and the satellite will inevitably fall to Earth.

At the time of launch, ERS-2 weighed 2,516 kilograms, without fuel it now weighs around 2,294 kilograms, according to ESA estimates.

Nevertheless, the two-ton satellite poses no danger: the majority of the device is expected to burn up in the atmosphere.

Some fragments that could survive the torrid ride through Earth's atmosphere will most likely fall into the sea.

“The annual risk of a single person being injured by space debris is less than 1 in 100 billion,” the ESA says on its website.

This risk is 65,000 times lower than the risk of being struck by lightning and three times lower than the risk of being struck by a meteorite. “The risk on the ground from re-entries is very small,” emphasized Tim Flohrer, head of the ESA Space Residue Department, in a media discussion on the “Aeolus” crash.

“To date, no one on the ground has been harmed.”

ESA cannot accurately predict satellite crash

The satellite is currently being constantly monitored.

Nevertheless, Esa cannot predict exactly when the crash will take place.

"Because re-entry is 'natural,' it is impossible to predict exactly when and where the satellite will begin to burn up," the space agency said.

“The window in which re-entry is possible will continue to shrink.”

It is difficult to calculate natural re-entries into the Earth's atmosphere because the density of the different layers of the Earth's atmosphere is not precisely known.

These layers are responsible for the “pulling” that brings the satellite closer and closer to Earth.

The closer they are, the faster a satellite sinks towards Earth.

Density is also influenced by solar activity.

In the case of “Aeolus,” solar activity accelerated the crash.

For a number of Starlink satellites, solar activity even caused brand new satellites to crash shortly after launch.

One thing is certain: ERS-2 will come down - gravity will take care of that.

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The editor wrote this article and then used an AI language model for optimization at her own discretion.

All information has been carefully checked. 

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Source: merkur

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