The European Space Agency has released images showing its Aeolus satellite plummeting to its fiery death as it reenters Earth’s atmosphere at a blazing speed of 16,700 miles per hour.
The Aeolus satellite was launched into space in 2018. It was the first satellite equipped with powerful laser technology capable of monitoring winds on a global scale.
During its 5-year mission, Aeolus improved weather forecasts and climate models, According to the European Space Agency. But Aeolus retired in July, and it was then transformed from a high-end satellite into a mere satellite Space junk.
This is actually what happened with Aeolus, but in a more controlled way than is usual.
The European Space Agency took the end of Aeolus as an opportunity to try out a first-of-its-kind reentry maneuver called “assisted reentry,” the European Space Agency said in a report. statement Tuesday.
How assisted reentries can make satellite decommissioning safer
The assisted return maneuver involved a series of deorbits, during which the satellite approached Earth, but remained in orbit.
This allows ESA to accurately map where the satellite will eventually reenter Earth’s atmosphere, helping to reduce the risk of any debris that doesn’t burn up completely. Landing near any populated area.
Ultimately, ESA calculated that the satellite would charter and burn up over Antarctica, far from any populated areas. About 80% of the satellite burned up and 20% survived re-entry Space.com website.
“By the natural conversion of Aeolus, Uncontrolled reentry into a supported orbit, and choosing the best orbit for re-entry, the very small risk from any remaining fragments landing near populated areas became 150 times less dangerous again. European Space Agency He said.
Furthermore, the assisted re-entry approach means that “the time Aeolus was left out of control in orbit was shortened by a few weeks, reducing the risk of collisions with other satellites on this vital space highway,” ESA said in the statement. .
More space junk, more risks, more action needed
There was more 6000 Active satellites in orbit as of 2022, compared to just under 1,000 in 2010. This means there is a greater risk Satellites colliding with each otherAnd space debris flies into inhabited places on Earth.
Although no one has been seriously harmed by space debris, space debris The danger is real and increasing The European Space Agency said as more satellites enter Earth’s orbit.
The more traffic there is, the more likely debris is to fall, the European Space Agency said. Especially since satellites that have become inoperable continue to operate above without guidance from Earth.
With these factors in mind, the European Space Agency promises to be more careful when it comes to space junk. “Making space missions safer is a particularly important matter of concern to the agency,” the European Space Agency said.
Aeolus-assisted reentry was part of that mission to make satellite reentry safer.
“With Aeolus, in a great example of sustainable spaceflight and responsible operations, we stayed with the mission as long as possible, guiding its return as best we could,” Aeolus mission director Tommaso Parinello said in the statement.
This article was originally published by Interested in trade.
More from Business Insider: