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The European satellite ERS-2, which observed the Earth for 16 years, burned up in the atmosphere

2024-02-21T23:01:51.870Z

Highlights: The European satellite ERS-2, which observed the Earth for 16 years, burned up in the atmosphere. The fallback operation towards our planet began in 2011, to prevent an accidental destruction of this object in orbit. In July 2023, the European satellite Aeolus returned to Earth in a controlled manner, from an orbit (300 km) lower than that of E RS-2. The probability of one of its debris hitting a person on the ground was less than one in a hundred billion, according to the ESA.


This pioneer satellite in Earth observation was launched in 1995. It had begun a natural and gradual descent towards the


The European satellite ERS-2, which completed its Earth observation mission 13 years ago, ended its life by entering the atmosphere on Wednesday, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported.

The fallback operation towards our planet began in 2011, to prevent an accidental destruction of this object in orbit from dispersing debris dangerous to active satellites and the International Space Station (ISS).

“We have confirmation of a re-entry into the atmosphere of ERS-2 at 5:17 p.m. GMT above the North Pacific Ocean between Alaska and Hawaii,” announced the ESA operations center on X (ex -Twitter).

Most of the 2.3 tonnes of ERS-2 was theoretically consumed when it reached the lower layers of the atmosphere at around 80 km altitude.

A descent by gravity

A pioneer satellite in Earth observation, ERS-2 was launched in 1995 and placed at an altitude of nearly 800 km.

At the end of its mission, the ESA had brought it back down to around 500 km, so that it then descended naturally and gradually towards the Earth in just 13 years, by the force of gravity alone.

Instead of the 100 to 200 years it would have taken if it had remained at its initial altitude.

On the eve of its destruction it was still at an altitude of more than 200 km.

On average, an object with a mass similar to ERS-2 ends its days in the atmosphere once every one or two weeks, according to the ESA.

Deprived of its internal energy (fuel oil, batteries, etc.) since the end of its mission, the machine presented a significant risk of exploding and creating debris.

Also read: The big bazaar of space debris: “We can quickly fall into a dramatic situation”

In July 2023, the European satellite Aeolus returned to Earth in a controlled manner, from an orbit (300 km) lower than that of ERS-2.

Debris fell into the Atlantic Ocean.

In the case of ERS-2 the probability of one of its debris hitting a person on the ground was less than one in a hundred billion, according to the ESA blog dedicated to the mission.

In 2023, ESA launched a “zero debris” charter for space missions designed from 2030.

Waste from used satellites, rocket parts and collision debris has accumulated since the beginning of the space age.

A problem that has grown in recent decades.

According to ESA estimates, there are around a million satellite or rocket debris in orbit larger than a centimeter, large enough to “disable a spacecraft” in the event of an impact.

Source: leparis

All tech articles on 2024-02-21

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