After nearly 21 years of orbit, a retired NASA Spacecraft is expected to enter Earth’s atmosphere on Wednesday.
, an announcement by NASA, states that the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager spacecraft (RHESSI), launched in 2002 and decommissioned in 2018 monitored solar flares as well as powerful coronal mass ejections from low orbits above Earth.
RHESSI has recorded more than 100,000 solar flare events in its career. This data helped scientists to better understand the power of solar flares.
NASA reported that the Department of Defense predicted the spacecraft would return to Earth at around 9:30 pm EST, Wednesday.
NASA experts have noted that the chances of someone being injured by debris from the burning up of the 660-pound rocket during its descent is 1 in 2,467.
According to the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, between 200 and 400 tracked items enter Earth’s atmospheric in average each year.
Since the launch of Sputnik 1 in October 1957, space debris has accumulated around the Earth. Most of the debris burns off upon reentry.
According to data collected over the last 50 years, one piece of space debris falls to Earth each day. However, there have been no confirmed deaths or serious injuries.
China received criticism when, on March 8, a rocket’s second-stage booster exploded and disintegrated during an uncontrolled entry above Texas.
U.S. Space Command stated that the Chinese debris was a “uncontrolled entry”, meaning it had not been steered. Instead, its orbit descended and naturally lowered, according to U.S. Space Command. This type of behavior highlights the need for improved international standards regarding high-risk controlled returns.
Fox News Julia Musto contributed this report.