ESA’s ERS-2 Satellite Nears Final Journey Home

Summary: After serving for more than a decade and a half, the ERS-2 satellite—an important contributor to climate change research—nears the end of its life as it prepares for re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

Developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the veteran of Earth observation, ERS-2, is on its last descent back to our planet. Launched in 1995 as a successor to ERS-1, this satellite has significantly advanced our understanding of Earth’s climate, environmental changes, and human impacts on the natural world. With its powerful suite of instruments, such as the synthetic aperture radar, radar altimeter, and atmospheric ozone sensor, ERS-2 diligently tracked the planet’s transforming landscape.

Measurements from ERS-2 have not only outlined the alarming reduction of polar ice but also sketched the shifting patterns in land surfaces and sea-level changes. Its sensors have registered the warming of the seas and modifications in atmospheric composition—a barometer for climate alterations. Moreover, the satellite’s vigilant gaze assisted in monitoring and mitigating natural disasters.

The technology established during the ERS-2 mission has been instrumental for further initiatives. Missions like Envisat, the MetOp weather satellites, Earth Explorer scientific research missions, and the Copernicus Sentinels all owe a part of their lineage to the groundwork laid by ERS-2.

With its retirement announced in 2011, the ESA has been observing the gradual decay of ERS-2’s orbit with anticipation of its re-entry, which is projected to occur around mid-February. This moment marks both an end and an homage to a mission that has shaped the past and illuminated the trajectory for future ecological vigilance.

FAQs about ERS-2 Satellite and Its Contributions to Climate Research

What is the ERS-2 satellite?
ERS-2, which stands for European Remote-Sensing Satellite-2, is a satellite that was launched in 1995 by the European Space Agency (ESA) as a successor to ERS-1. Its primary role has been to observe Earth, including its climate, environmental changes, and the impacts of human activity on the natural world.

What instruments were on board ERS-2?
ERS-2 was equipped with a synthetic aperture radar, a radar altimeter, and an atmospheric ozone sensor among other instruments. These tools allowed it to monitor various aspects of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

What contributions has ERS-2 made to climate change research?
Measurements from ERS-2 have been crucial in identifying the reduction of polar ice, observing shifting patterns in land surfaces, tracking sea-level changes, monitoring the warming of the seas, and detecting changes in atmospheric composition. These findings are vital for understanding climate change.

How has ERS-2 impacted other space missions?
The technology developed and data gathered during the ERS-2 mission has supported the development of subsequent missions, including Envisat, the MetOp weather satellites, Earth Explorer scientific research missions, and the Copernicus Sentinels.

When is ERS-2 expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere?
The ESA has announced that ERS-2 is nearing the end of its operational life and is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere around mid-February, although a specific date was not provided in the article.

Has the ERS-2 satellite been retired?
Yes, the retirement of the satellite was announced in 2011, and since then, the ESA has been monitoring the gradual decay of its orbit leading up to its re-entry to Earth.

Will there be any risk associated with the ERS-2 re-entry?
The article does not mention any specific risks associated with ERS-2’s re-entry. Generally, space agencies closely monitor such events to mitigate any potential risks.

Definitions of Key Terms:

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR): A form of radar that is used to create images of objects, such as landscapes – it can produce high-resolution data regardless of weather conditions or daylight.

Radar Altimeter: An instrument that measures altitude above the terrain presently beneath an aircraft or spacecraft by timing how long it takes a radio-wave pulse to return to the instrument after it is bounced off the surface.

Atmospheric Ozone Sensor: A device on a satellite that measures the concentration of ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Suggested Related Links:
European Space Agency (ESA)

Please note that specific details such as the exact date of re-entry aren’t provided in your article summary and are based on the information available. Always refer to the latest updates from the ESA for the most current information.