European Space Agency Assisting First-Ever Satellite Reentry for Earth’s Safety
The European Space Agency (ESA) is embarking on an unprecedented mission to ensure the safety of people and property on Earth. For the first time in spaceflight history, the ESA is assisting the reentry of a defunct satellite, called Aeolus, into Earth’s atmosphere.
Launched in 2018, the 1,100-kilogram Aeolus satellite has been providing valuable data on winds on Earth and volcanic plumes. However, its mission has reached its end, and the ESA is now taking measures to safely dispose of the satellite. By using the remaining fuel, the agency is maneuvering Aeolus into the appropriate position for reentry.
Set to occur on Friday, July 28, Aeolus will break through Earth’s atmosphere, with any surviving debris plunging into the Atlantic Ocean. It is important to note that the risk of any fragment hitting someone on the planet is remarkably low. Nevertheless, the ESA has developed this assisted reentry procedure to further reduce the already minimal risk.
This daring attempt not only ensures the safety of people and property on Earth but also opens up possibilities for future satellite reentries. Previously, active satellites that were not designed for controlled reentry were left to descend on their own. Now, with the success of this assisted reentry, the safe return of such satellites can potentially be achieved.
In order to make this mission a success, the ESA will perform several crucial maneuvers to guide Aeolus back to Earth gradually. The final maneuver will steer the satellite to an altitude of 75 miles (120 kilometers) before commencing its descent. This unique approach has never been attempted before, representing a significant milestone in space exploration.
Interestingly, if the assisted reentry procedure is unsuccessful, Aeolus will still descend without any assistance. This backup plan ensures that the satellite will return to Earth, even if unexpected challenges arise during the process.
For the latest updates on Aeolus’ final days in space and its reentry, you can follow the satellite’s Twitter feed. This mission marks a new era in space exploration, demonstrating the ESA’s commitment to safely managing the life cycle of satellites and preserving the wellbeing of our planet and its inhabitants.