West News Wire: A defunct NASA satellite that has spent nearly 40 years in orbit is poised to hit the ground.

According to a statement released by NASA on Saturday, the likelihood of a risk to “anyone on Earth” from falling satellite debris is extremely low.

According to NASA, some components of the 2,450kg (5,400lb) satellite are anticipated to survive the re-entry but most will burn up.

According to the American space agency, the likelihood of being hurt by falling debris is one in 9,400. The US defense department has predicted that the scientific satellite will fall down on Sunday night at around 18:40 EST (23:40 GMT), give or take 17 hours.

However, the California-based Aerospace Corporation has estimated that the satellite will reenter the atmosphere on Monday morning, US time, with a margin of error of 13 hours, along a track that passes over Africa, Asia the Middle East and the westernmost areas of North and South America.

The Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, known as ERBS, was launched in 1984 on board the space shuttle Challenger.

Although its expected working lifetime was two years, the satellite kept making ozone and other atmospheric measurements until its retirement in 2005. The satellite studied how Earth absorbed and radiated energy from the sun.

“ERBS far exceeded its expected two-year service life, operating until its retirement in 2005,” NASA said in a statement.

“Its observations helped researchers measure the effects of human activities on Earth’s radiation balance,” NASA said.

The satellite got a special send-off when it was launched from the Challenger 38 years ago.

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The first woman in space, US astronaut Sally Ride, released the satellite into orbit using the shuttle’s robot arm.

That same mission also featured the first spacewalk by a US woman Kathryn Sullivan. It was the first time two female astronauts flew in space together.


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