In 1984, the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) was launched aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The satellite was intended to study how Earth absorbed and radiated energy from the sun, with a planned working lifetime of two years. However, ERBS continued to make ozone and other atmospheric measurements until its retirement in 2005.

  • The satellite's launch was notable for the presence of America's first woman in space, Sally Ride, who released the satellite into orbit using the shuttle's robot arm. The same mission also featured the first spacewalk by a U.S. woman, Kathryn Sullivan, marking the first time two female astronauts flew in space together.

The Legacy of ERBS

  • ERBS's contribution to the study of Earth's radiation budget was significant. The satellite's measurements of Earth's incoming and outgoing energy helped scientists understand the planet's climate and weather patterns, as well as the effects of human activity on the atmosphere.
  • The satellite's data was used in a number of important studies, including an investigation into the Antarctic ozone hole. ERBS's mission was extended several times, with the satellite ultimately remaining in operation for 21 years, well beyond its original expected lifespan.

The Fall of ERBS

  • Despite its successful mission, ERBS's time in space has come to an end. The 38-year-old satellite is set to fall from the sky, with NASA announcing that the chance of wreckage falling on anybody is "very low." Most of the 5,400-pound satellite will burn up upon re-entry, according to NASA, but some pieces are expected to survive.
  • The space agency has put the odds of injury from falling debris at about 1-in-9,400. The satellite is expected to come down on Sunday night, give or take 17 hours, according to the Defense Department, however, Aerospace Corp. California-based is targeting Monday morning, give or take 13 hours, along a track passing over Africa, Asia the Middle East and the westernmost areas of North and South America.

ERBS's contribution to our understanding of Earth's climate and weather patterns cannot be overstated. The satellite's measurements played a crucial role in advancing our knowledge of the planet and the effects of human activity on its atmosphere. While ERBS may have completed its mission and is set to fall from the sky, the data it collected will continue to be used and studied for years to come, ensuring that the satellite's legacy will endure.


Written by IAS POINT

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