The European Space Agency's (ESA) ERS-2 satellite is expected to reach Earth's atmosphere in mid-February. It is not yet known exactly where it will land, but researchers are constantly monitoring the path of ERS-2. During the fall, the satellite disintegrates and most of it ends up in the atmosphere.
The European Space Agency's ERS-2 satellite is expected to fall to Earth in mid-February.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) February 7, 2024
The European Remote Sensing Satellite 2 entered Earth orbit in April 1995 and completed observing missions in September 2011.
ESA began preparations for decommissioning ERS-2 even before the end of the ERS-2 primary mission, performing a total of 66 engine burns in July and August 2011. These maneuvers were necessary to use up the satellite's remaining fuel and lower its altitude from 785 km to 573 km.
By completing the missions, specialists reduced the possibility of ERS-2 colliding with other satellites or space debris, and also made sure that the satellite's orbit decreased quickly enough to return to the Earth's atmosphere in the next 15 years.
The weight of the satellite at the time of its launch was 2,516 kilograms, and after emptying the fuel tank, its weight decreased to 2,294 kilograms. That may seem like a lot of weight, but according to ESA officials, it's far from a large amount of space junk, as objects of similar mass enter Earth's atmosphere almost every week.
The satellite was slowly approaching Earth, but it was already low enough to be pulled down by atmospheric drag. It is not yet known exactly where it will land, but researchers are constantly monitoring the path of ERS-2. As it falls, the satellite disintegrates and most of it ends up in the atmosphere.
source: Space.com website