Doomed satellite will burn up, plunge to Earth on Feb. 21

ERS-2 Graphic

A big, satellite is headed for a fiery end in Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 21. The out-of-control, European satellite, launched 30 years ago, will plunge into Earth’s atmosphere on Wednesday and is expected to break into pieces, according to Sky.com.

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However since the satellite’s re-entry is not controlled by humans, the European Space Agency can’t predict exactly where and when it will reach the atmosphere and where its remnants will fall.

As the end draws nearer, the ESA will be able to predict with greater accuracy, Sky.com reported. Right now, officials are saying it will re-enter the atmosphere a little after 11 a.m. on Wednesday, but the window of uncertainty is wide.

It could happen as much as 15 hours sooner or later.

ERS 2, as the satellite is called, will probably hit the ocean, the agency said. Monday, it was at an altitude of about 200 kilometers (124) mile and when it reaches 80 km, roughly 50 miles, it will begin to break apart and burn up, FOX Weather reported.

While some pieces of the craft could reach the ground, ESA information said “The risks associated with satellite reentries are very low. None of the fragments will contain any toxins or radioactive material, the agency said.

The satellite has been studying the Earth’s polar regions, atmosphere and the behavior of the oceans, Sky News said.

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