A 2000 kg abandoned satellite will fall to Earth tomorrow… Most of the fragments will likely burn up.

A 2000 kg abandoned satellite will fall to Earth tomorrow… Most of the fragments will likely burn up.
A 2000 kg abandoned satellite will fall to Earth tomorrow… Most of the fragments will likely burn up.
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A picture of ERS-2, an Earth observation satellite launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1995 (Capture from ESA website ‘blogs.esa.int’). 2024.2.20.

A satellite that has reached the end of its life will fall to Earth on the 21st. Although it only weighs about 2,000 kg, most of the satellite fragments are burned during the process of entering the Earth’s atmosphere, so it is expected that there will be no significant damage.

According to CNN broadcast on the 20th, the European Space Agency (ESA) is reporting the fall of the disused satellite ‘ERS-2’ in real time through its website. On this day, ESA predicted that ERS-2 would enter the atmosphere at 8:14 pm on the 21st, Korean time.

However, because the margin of error is 15 hours, it is unclear when exactly the satellite will enter. The impact of the atmosphere on satellites and the density of the atmosphere vary depending on solar activity, and as we enter the so-called ‘solar maximum’, when solar activity is maximized every 11 years this year, prediction accuracy has decreased significantly.

ESA explained on this day that the net weight of ERS-2, excluding fuel, is 2,294 kg, which is similar to other space debris that has fallen on Earth. When ERS-2 enters the atmosphere, it is expected to disintegrate at 80 km above the ground due to impact with the air and burn all remaining fragments.

In relation to this, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) assessed that even if some fragments reach the surface, there is a high possibility that they will fall into the sea, and that it is not a major problem as there are no harmful substances. According to NASA, the chance of an individual being injured by space debris is only 1 in 100 billion.

ERS-2, an Earth observation satellite developed by ESA, was launched in April 1995. It orbited the Earth along with the twin satellite ERS-1, launched in July 1991, and collected data from the Earth’s polar regions, oceans, and land surface, helping to observe and understand various weather phenomena and natural disasters.

However, ERS-2 lost its function after leaving Earth’s orbit more than 66 times over a two-month period starting in July 2011. Finally, in September of the same year, ESA decided to officially end the ERS-2 satellite mission. ERS-2 gradually ran out of fuel and lowered its altitude, returning to Earth 13 years after retirement.

(Seoul = News 1)

The article is in Korean

Tags: abandoned satellite fall Earth tomorrow .. fragments burn

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