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This is the satellite that will crash into Earth today, February 21

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This is the satellite that will crash into Earth today, February 21

The Heritage ERS-2 satellite is expected to enter the Earth’s atmosphere on Wednesday, February 21, at around 10:32 a.m. Central Mexico time. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the satellite will naturally disintegrate after the end of its useful life, and experts believe there will be minimal risk associated with its re-entry.

The satellite, weighing about two tons, will begin to break into pieces when it reaches approximately 80 kilometers from Earth, with most of the fragments expected to burn completely. However, there is a possibility that some small fragments could survive and impact the surface, although it is too early to determine the exact location of where they might fall.

ERS-2 was launched in 1995 and followed in the footsteps of its sister satellite, ERS-1. The two were considered the most sophisticated Earth observation satellites at the time. The retired satellite has been undergoing a controlled reentry process since 2011, and now it is expected to re-enter the atmosphere naturally and disintegrate.

The ESA’s Space Debris Office is closely monitoring the re-entry, in coordination with several international partners, to ensure a safe and controlled process. The ERS-2 satellite carried a suite of instruments that provided valuable data on various environmental factors, including declining polar ice, changes in the Earth’s surface, rising sea levels, warming oceans, and atmospheric chemistry.

The information collected by the satellite has laid the foundation for many of today’s Earth observation satellites, and its data continues to be used for scientific research through the Heritage program. The ESA affirms that more findings will continue to emerge about our ever-changing world and the risks we face, thanks to the data collected by the ERS-2 satellite.

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