After spending over a decade on a mission in space, a now-defunct satellite is projected to return to Earth on Wednesday.

ERS-2, one of the European Space Agency’s first advanced Earth observing satellites, will make a “natural” reentry after staying in space for 16 years.

According to live updates from the ESA, the agency now predicts the satellite will reenter the atmosphere on Wednesday around 10:41 a.m. EST, with an uncertainty of plus-or-minus 1.44 hours (1 hour and 26.4 minutes), according to the ESA.

ERS-2 launched in 1995 and was initially planned to serve the ESA for three years. However, it remained in operation until 2011, providing data for over 5,000 projects, including tracking Earth’s shrinking polar ice, sea levels and atmospheric make-up.The majority of the 2.5 ton satellite will disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere, according to the agency. Remaining debris is likely to land in a body of water, though the agency does not have a prediction on where it will land.Where will the satellite reenter? In its latest update, the ESA identified a projected reentry point roughly 50 miles over the Pacific Ocean. Upon reentry, the ESA predicts the satellite will begin to break up and the majority of it will burn, with any remaining pieces to be spread out “somewhat randomly” over a span of hundreds of kilometers (1 kilometer = 0.62 miles).

The ESA stresses the point of reentry is not certain due to the difficulty of forecasting the density of air through which the object is passing.How ERS-2 spent its time in space The space agency used the satellite to track the Earth’s decreasing polar ice, shifting land masses, rising sea levels, warming oceans and changing atmospheric chemistry. Since the satellite’s retirement, the agency has been slowly lowering its altitude.

The Journey of ERS-2: From Space to Earth

Have you ever wondered what happens to a satellite after it completes its mission in space? Well, wonder no more! The European Space Agency’s (ESA) ERS-2 satellite is about to make a dramatic return to Earth after over a decade of service. This blog post will explore the fascinating journey of ERS-2, from its launch in 1995 to its projected reentry in 2024.

The Launch and Mission

ERS-2 was launched in 1995 with the primary mission of observing Earth’s environment. Equipped with advanced sensors and instruments, the satellite was designed to monitor a wide range of environmental parameters, including polar ice, sea levels, and atmospheric composition. The satellite was initially planned to operate for three years but ended up exceeding expectations, remaining operational until 2011.

The Impact of ERS-2

During its operational lifetime, ERS-2 provided data for over 5,000 projects, contributing significantly to our understanding of Earth’s changing climate. The satellite played a crucial role in tracking the shrinking polar ice, the rise in sea levels, and the warming of our oceans. Its observations also helped scientists study shifting land masses and changing atmospheric chemistry.

The Reentry

Now, after 16 years in space, ERS-2 is set to make a “natural” reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. The ESA predicts that the satellite will reenter the atmosphere on Wednesday around 10:41 a.m. EST. The majority of the satellite, weighing 2.5 tons, is expected to disintegrate upon reentry, with any remaining debris likely to land in a body of water.

The Uncertainty

Despite the ESA’s best efforts, there is still some uncertainty surrounding the satellite’s reentry. The agency has identified a projected reentry point roughly 50 miles over the Pacific Ocean. However, the density of air through which the satellite is passing makes it difficult to predict the exact point of reentry. The ESA stresses that the reentry point is not certain, and there is a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.44 hours.


The journey of ERS-2 is a testament to the advancements in space technology and our ongoing efforts to understand and protect our planet. From its launch in 1995 to its projected reentry in 2024, the satellite has provided invaluable data that has helped scientists study and address some of the most pressing environmental challenges facing our planet.


  1. How long has ERS-2 been in space?
    ERS-2 was launched in 1995 and has been in space for 16 years.
  2. What was the primary mission of ERS-2?
    The primary mission of ERS-2 was to observe Earth’s environment.
  3. How much does ERS-2 weigh?
    ERS-2 weighs 2.5 tons.
  4. Where will ERS-2 reenter Earth’s atmosphere?
    ERS-2 is projected to reenter over the Pacific Ocean.
  5. What is the uncertainty surrounding ERS-2’s reentry?
    The uncertainty is plus-or-minus 1.44 hours.

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