56-year-old NASA satellite expected to fall to Earth this end of the week
A NASA geophysics satellite’s long space odyssey is almost at an end.
The Orbiting Geophysics Observatory 1 spacecraft, or OGO-1, propelled in September 1964 to study Earth’s magnetic environment and how our planet interacts with the sun. The satellite assembled information until 1969, was authoritatively decommissioned in 1971 and has been zooming quietly around Earth on a highly elliptical two-day orbit from that point forward.
Yet, OGO-1’s days are numbered. New perceptions show that Earth’s gravity has at last found the 1,070-lb. (487 kilograms) satellite, which is relied upon to pass on a searing demise in our planet’s atmosphere this end of the week.
“OGO-1 is predicted to re-enter on one of its next three perigees, the points in the spacecraft’s orbit closest to our plant, and current estimates have OGO-1 re-entering Earth’s atmosphere on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, at about 5:10 p.m. EDT [2110 GMT], over the South Pacific approximately halfway between Tahiti and the Cook Islands,” NASA officials wrote in an update Thursday (Aug. 27).
“The spacecraft will break up in the atmosphere and poses no threat to our planet — or anyone on it — and this is a normal final operational occurrence for retired spacecraft,” they added.
The new perceptions come courtesy of the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) and the University of Hawaii’s Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), the two of which freely identified a small object on an evident effect trajectory.
Investigations by analysts at the CSS, the Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and the European Space Agency’s NEO Coordination Center uncovered that the object being referred to was not an asteroid but instead OGO-1, NASA authorities said.
OGO-1 was the first satellite in the six-spacecraft OGO program, whose different individuals propelled in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969. Those five have all returned to Earth, most recently in 2011, reappearing over different patches of ocean.