Dead NASA satellite returns to Earth after 38 years

Dead NASA satellite returns to Earth after 38 years

Dead NASA satellite returns to Earth after 38 years

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A defunct NASA satellite has fallen back to Earth after 38 years in orbit.

The Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, better known as ERBS, was launched in 1984 aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

Until 2005, data from ERBS helped researchers study how the Earth absorbed and radiated energy from the sun, and measure ozone, water vapor, nitrogen dioxide and aerosol concentrations in the Earth’s stratosphere.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed that ERBS entered Earth’s atmosphere at 11:04 p.m. ET Sunday over the Bering Sea, according to a statement from NASA.

It was not immediately clear whether parts of the satellite survived the reentry. Most of the satellite was expected to burn up as it moved through the atmosphere. NASA calculated that the risk of harm to anyone on Earth was very low – about 1 in 9,400.

The satellite far exceeded its expected lifespan of two years, a total of 21 years.

An instrument aboard ERBS, the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II (SAGE II), collected data that confirmed that the ozone layer was declining on a global scale, according to NASA.

That data helped shape the Montreal Protocol Agreement, an international agreement signed by dozens of countries in 1987 that has led to a dramatic decline around the world in the use of ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – chemicals once commonly used in aerosol cans, refrigeration and air conditioners.

If no agreement had been reached on the ban on CFCs, the world would be headed for an ozone layer collapse and an additional global warming of 2.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. a 2021 study found.

Today on the International Space Station, SAGE III collects data on the health of the ozone layer.

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