Advanced Radar Captures ERS-2 Satellite Buckling and Bending During Re-Entry

ERS-2 Buckles and Bends During Final Farewell

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Fraunhofer FHR’s radar tracking of ESA’s ERS-2 satellite exposed essential structural modifications before re-entry, boosting understanding of satellite disintegration and helping in more precise future forecasts. Credit: Fraunhofer FHR

ESA’s ERS-2 satellite effectively reentered Earth’s environment after almost 30 years in orbit, with its last minutes tracked by Germany’s FraunhoferInstitute The unanticipated detachment of its solar selection offered essential information for enhancing satellite reentry forecasts.

Following an extremely effective objective and nearly 30 years in orbit, ESA’s ERS-2 reentered Earth’s environment at roughly 18: 17 CET (17: 17 UTC) on February 21, 2024.

Predicting the specific time and place of ERS-2’s natural reentry was made harder by the absence of brand-new observations of the satellite throughout its last transformations around Earth.

Tracking ERS-2’s Final Moments

This GIF integrates a few of the last pictures of ERS-2 toppling through the sky. They were caught by the Tracking and Imaging Radar (TIRA) at the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR in Germany.

TIRA’s 34- m antenna tracked the satellite as it passed overhead for a couple of minutes on each of February 19, 20, and21 The last session occurred around 8: 00 CET on February 21, still approximately 10 orbits before reentry.

ERS-2 Reentry

ERS-2 reentry– how and why is it taking place? Credit: ESA

Analyzing ERS-2’s Solar Array Detachment

By comparing the images from the 3 TIRA tracking sessions, we can see that ERS-2’s solar selection was currently coming loose and no longer securely connected to the remainder of the satellite the day before re-entry.

When forecasting a satellite’s reentry trajectory, specialists treat it as one stiff item till nearly the very end. If ERS-2’s solar selection was loose and moving separately a day early, it might have triggered the satellite to engage with the environment in methods we did not anticipate.

Experts are now evaluating the information. If the buckling of the solar selection is connected to the truth that ERS-2’s reentry occurred somewhat behind anticipated, this research study might assist enhance our projections of future natural reentries.

ESA thanks Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR for supplying measurements of their area observation radar TIRA, in close partnership with the German Space Situational Awareness Center, GSSAC.

The color in these images represents radar echo strength and not temperature level.