See the Dramatic Final Moments of the Doomed ERS-2 Satellite

The ESA's ERS-2 Earth observation satellite was destroyed when it re-entered Earth's atmosphere on February 21st 2004. Heavy parts of satellites like reaction wheels don't don't always burn up in the atmosphere and can pose a hazard. ESA engineers are working on reaction wheels that will break into pieces to reduce the hazard. Image Credit: Fraunhofer FHR

When a satellite reaches the end of its life, it has only two destinations. It can either be maneuvered into a graveyard orbit, a kind of purgatory for satellites, or it plunges to its destruction in Earth’s atmosphere. The ESA’s ERS-2 satellite took the latter option after 30 years in orbit.

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