NASA’s retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) reentered Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday after almost four decades in space.
The ERBS investigated how the Earth radiated and absorbed energy from the Sun for 21 of its years in orbit.
Besides, it also made measurements of nitrogen dioxide, water vapor, stratospheric ozone, and aerosols.
The Department of Defense confirmed that the satellite reentered the Earth over the Bering Sea.
NASA estimated most of the 5,400-pound satellite to burn up as it got through the atmosphere, but some components could still survive.
The ERBS spacecraft was launched from the Spacecraft Shuttle Challenger on Oct. 5, 1984.
It was part of NASA’s three-satellite Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) mission.
The mission carried three instruments, one to measure stratospheric components and two to measure the Earth’s radiative energy budget.
Ozone in the stratosphere presents a crucial role in protecting life on Earth from ultraviolet radiation.
Meanwhile, the energy budget is an important indicator of climate health and can help reveal weather patterns.
ERBS operated until its retirement in 2005, exceeding its expected two-year service life.
It gave a lot of valuable information about the effect of human activities on Earth’s radiation balance.
After the success of the ERBE mission, NASA continued building Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES).