After Years In Space, NASA’s Massive Satellite Arrives Back

After 38 years in orbit around the planet, a 5,400-pound NASA spacecraft has successfully returned to Earth.

NASA affirmed in a tweet that on January 8, at 11:04 p.m. Eastern Time, the decommissioned Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, also known as ERBS, entered the atmosphere of Earth over the Bering Sea, which is located between Alaska and eastern Russia.

Statement From NASA

There is a possibility that some pieces of the satellite made it to sea level, despite the fact a significant portion of it will have been destroyed when it re-entered the atmosphere of Earth at such a high velocity.

Since around Monday, there has been no news of injuries or accidents caused by falling debris.

In October 1984, the Space Shuttle Challenger was responsible for delivering ERBS into orbit.

The orbiter was a component of NASA’s three-satellite Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) expedition and it applied with it three devices: two for taking metrics of Earth’s radiative energy requirements and one for evaluating stratospheric components, including ozone.

The spacecraft also carried a camera to take images of the Earth’s surface.

In a statement on its website, NASA stated the energy budget, which is the equilibrium between the quantity of solar energy that Earth consumes or emits, is an essential indication of the health of the climate.

Knowing it may also help uncover trends in the weather. Ozone levels in the stratosphere are an essential component in the system that shields life on Earth from the potentially lethal effects of UV light.


ERBS continued to operate much beyond the two-year service life that was originally anticipated, ending only in 2005. Researchers were able to determine the impact human activities have had on Earth’s radiation balance with the aid of its observations.

Building on the accomplishments of the ERBE mission, NASA has continued to work on other projects, one of which is the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) suite of satellite sensors, which is currently operational.

It was anticipated that ERBS would only be operational for a period of two years when it began its journey in 1984; nevertheless, it ended up beaming back data for a total of 21 years until it was retired in 2005.

The destruction of ERBS will result in a reduction in the amount of space debris in low-Earth orbit.

In more recent years, had it come into contact with another item of trash, it may have shattered into a great number of pieces, contributing to the accumulation of even more garbage.

Space debris, which originates from decommissioned spacecraft and leftover components from rocket launches, poses a threat to functioning satellites like the International Space Station.

It must sometimes modify its orbit in order to avoid colliding with the approaching trash.

This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.