Space

660-pound NASA satellite RHESSI to crash into Earth Wednesday night

RHESSI has been in orbit since 2002 but was retired in 2018 after its communications failed.

NASA's RHESSI (Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager) solar observation satellite.
NASA
SMS

A retired 660-pound NASA satellite is expected to hit Earth Wednesday night, but no worries; the risk of harming anyone on the planet is low.

According to NASA, the spacecraft will reenter Earth’s atmosphere sometime around 9:30 p.m. ET. However, they are keeping the re-entry location undisclosed to the public due to the persistent uncertainty regarding when and where it may descend.

What they do share is that most of the spacecraft is expected to burn up as it makes its way back to Earth, but some parts will fall to the planet.

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The likelihood of the fallen satellite pieces harming anyone on Earth is considered "low," a statement by the space agency says, and they estimated the risk of harm to be approximately 1 in 2,467.

The dead satellite, known as Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI), rocketed into orbit in 2002 to study the sun, and it even improved measurements of the sun's shape.

RHESSI was used to collect solar flares and coronal mass ejections and captured over 100,000 solar events in high-energy X-rays and gamma rays until its communications failed in 2018, according to NASA.

Both NASA and the Defense Department say they are closely monitoring the spacecraft's reentry and will update the public with any new information on its whereabouts.