After almost thirty years of orbiting the planet on its Earth-observing mission a European satellite went dead in September 2011. The satellite was launched into space in April 1995.
Later this month, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) European Remote Sensing 2 (ERS-2) satellite will make a fiery return to Earth’s atmosphere.
The ESA passivated ERS-2 in 2011 by draining its batteries and fuel to reduce the risk of explosion and the creation of additional space debris. Despite these precautions, the satellite will now plunge back to Earth, contributing to the ongoing issue of space debris.
European satellite returns home
To hasten its descent, the ESA conducted 66 engine burns to leave the satellite stranded in orbit, ensuring it would reenter Earth’s atmosphere within 15 years.