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NASA Satellite to Crash Into Earth on Sunday

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A retired NASA satellite is expected to descend into the Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday, with a chance it could crash into the planet’s surface. Friday, the space agency announced its Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) will reenter the atmosphere around 6:40 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, January 8th. As of the agency’s press release Friday morning, that reentry window can change upward of 17 hours earlier or later than the anticipated time.

Though researchers believe most of the satellite will burn up during its descent through the atmosphere, the agency does confirm there is a possibility some pieces of the cosmic tool could survive reentry. NASA says someone getting hit by a piece of the satellite stand at 1 in 9,400.

Late Friday, the United States Space Force’s Space Track service updated a reentry time of 11:25 p.m. Eastern plus or minus 10 hours while The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies estimates reentry at 10:49 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, plus or minus 13 hours.

“ERBS far exceeded its expected two-year service life, operating until its retirement in 2005. Its observations helped researchers measure the effects of human activities on Earth’s radiation balance. NASA has continued to build on the success of the ERBE mission with projects including the current Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) suite of satellite instruments,” NASA said in a press release.

It added, “The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II (SAGE II) on the ERBS made stratospheric measurements. SAGE II collected important data that confirmed the ozone layer was declining on a global scale. That data helped shape the international Montreal Protocol Agreement, resulting in a dramatic decrease around the globe in the use of ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons. Today, SAGE III on the International Space Station collects data on the health of the ozone layer.”

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