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Scientists issue update on when doomed satellite will hit Earth but still have no idea where it will land

Scientists issue update on when doomed satellite will hit Earth but still have no idea where it will land

The satellite's mission ended back in 2011 and now it's on its way back

A satellite is going to come crashing back down to Earth in the next week and despite scientists issuing an update, they still have no idea where it will land.

Now that would be a sight to open up your curtains to in the morning...

Back in April 1995, the European Remote Sensing 2 (ERS-2) satellite was sent up into space and at that time, was the most sophisticated Earth observation spacecraft ever developed in Europe.

Working with the practically identical ERS-1, it collected a load of valuable data on Earth’s land surfaces, oceans and polar caps and was called upon to monitor natural disasters such as severe flooding or earthquakes in remote parts of the world.

After a decent stint, the ESA ended the mission in 2011 and a series of manoeuvres were completed to de-orbit the satellite.

This is done to ‘lower the satellite’s average altitude and mitigate the risk of collision with other satellites or space debris’.

And now, 13 years since its mission was ended, the satellite is now re-entering the lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere, with the UK space agency capturing images of the satellite approaching.

The UK Space Agency has released images of the satellite re-entering the atmosphere.

Here, it will begin to burn up.

The spacecraft’s re-entry is uncontrolled so it’s impossible for scientists to know exactly when and over which part of Earth this is going to happen.

But there has been a bit of an update.

It was previously reported that the crashing of ERS-2 would happen on 19 February at 10.26pm GMT.


Now, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) best guess is that it will reenter the atmosphere on 21 February at 12.10pm GMT.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty though as that crash predication comes with a margin of error some 26 hours either side. Great.

ESA describe the ERS-2 re-entry as ‘natural’ as it is no longer possible to control the satellite.

ESA say: "While we can forecast the re-entry to within a few days, it is not possible to predict exactly when and where the satellite will renter prior to its final few orbits.


"As we approach the day of re-entry, we will be able to predict a time and location with increasing certainty.

"During re-entry, the satellite will break up into pieces, the majority of which will burn up. The risks associated with satellite re-entries are very low."

Well, let’s hope that happens pretty soon then as the clock is quite literally ticking away.

Don't start panicking though, ESA’s Space Debris Office is monitoring the satellite as its orbits decays and will provide regular updates in these days leading up to re-entry.

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: Science, Space, Technology, World News