Category: space debris

Category: space debris

European satellite plunges back to Earth in first-of-its-kind assisted re-entry

Enlarge / Artist’s illustration showing the orbital tracks of the European Space Agency’s Aeolus satellite. (credit: ESA/ATG medialab) The European Space Agency deftly guided one of its satellites toward a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere Friday, demonstrating a new method of post-mission disposal to ensure the spacecraft would not fall into any populated areas. The Aeolus satellite was relatively modest in size and mass—about 1.1 metric tons with its fuel tank empty—but ESA hailed Friday’s “assisted re-entry” as proof that the space agency takes the stewardship of space seriously. When the Aeolus mission was conceived in the late 1990s, there

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