A defunct NASA satellite was expected to fall to Earth in days

A retired NASA spacecraft is about to meet its fiery demise, burning up in Earth’s atmosphere after its expected free fall from orbit later this week.

The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) spacecraft is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere on April 19 at about 9:30 p.m. ET, which will make or break 16 hours, NASA announce Based on the latest Department of Defense estimates.

The 660-pound (300-kilogram) satellite will likely burn up during re-entry, though some parts could survive plunging into the atmosphere and making their way to the surface. NASA has reassured Earth residents, however, that the risk of harm is about 1 in 2,467. The space agency will continue to monitor RHESSI’s return to improve its forecasts.

The mission launched on February 5, 2002 with the sole purpose of watching the sun day in and day out. RHESSI’s mission was to search for solar flares – Huge blasts of radiation that the Sun shoots out into space (and sometimes toward Earth). “Ask any scientist who has worked on RHESSI what their favorite glow is, and they’ll easily happily snag a date, as if it were a birthday or holiday they’ll always remember,” NASA books in 2018 statement.

After years of providing scientists with valuable data about our host star, the aging spacecraft was officially retired on August 16, 2018. RHESSI spent his retirement years in stable low-Earth orbit, but atmospheric drag was pulling the spacecraft, gradually lowering its orbit until it finally returned through the atmosphere. weather this week.

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During its mission, RHESSI observed more than 75,000 solar flares, each memorable in its own way, according to NASA. “One person even had a very hated glow,” heliophysicist Sam Crocker was quoted as saying in the NASA statement. “He had many arguments with his colleagues about him, trying to explain it, which wasn’t always pleasant.”

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