Retired NASA Satellite Returns to Earth After 38 Years in Space
The ERBS was launched by the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984.
A NASA satellite called the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) has made its return to Earth after nearly four decades in space. Launched in 1984 from the Space Shuttle Challenger, the ERBS was released into orbit by Sally Ride, an astronaut and the first American woman to fly to space.
It was part of a mission designed to measure the radiative energy budget of Earth, meaning, the amount of energy that the planet intakes from the Sun. A deeper understanding of the energy budget provides scientists with more information about climate change and weather patterns. The satellite was also used to investigate the stratosphere, including the ozone.
While ERBS had a two-year service life expectancy, it was utilized and functioning until 2005. Since then, the 5,400 lb (2,449 kg) satellite has been floating in space defunct.
The Department of Defense confirmed that ERBS reentered the atmosphere over the Bering Sea on Monday. NASA has predicted that some components of the satellite would burn up over the course of its journey.
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