A retired Nasa satellite re-entered Earth's atmosphere and burned up in the skies above Alaska. The spacecraft had been operating for over four decades, circling above the planet and gathering data about the planet's radiation budget.
The American Defense Department confirmed that the satellite — placed in orbit in 1984 by astronaut Sally Ride — reentered late Sunday night over the Bering Sea, a few hundred miles from Alaska. Nasa said it's received no reports of injury or damage from falling debris.
Space shuttle Challenger carried the satellite into orbit and the first American woman in space set it free. The satellite measured ozone in the atmosphere and studied how Earth absorbed and radiated energy from the sun, before being retired in 2005, well beyond its expected working lifetime.
ERBS actively investigated how the Earth absorbed and radiated energy from the Sun, and made measurements of stratospheric ozone, water vapor, nitrogen dioxide, and aerosols. The data collected by the spacecraft helped shape the international Montreal Protocol Agreement, resulting in a dramatic decrease around the globe in the use of ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons.
Nasa had said it expected most of the 2,450-kilogram Earth Radiation Budget Satellite to burn up in the atmosphere, but that some pieces might survive. The space agency put the odds of falling debris injuring someone at 1-in-9,400.