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Old NASA satellite to fall from sky back to Earth this weekend

Old NASA satellite to fall from sky back to Earth this weekend

The space agency reassured that the risk of harm is 'very low'

It's a bird... it's a plane... no, it's an old NASA satellite from outer space plummeting towards earth.

Although this might sound like the plot of a sci-fi flick, it turns out this unusual situation is set to take place this weekend.

NASA confirmed that its retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite is expected to reenter our planet's atmosphere on Sunday, January 8.

But before you start seeking out your nearest doomsday bunker, the space agency reassured that the risk of harm to anyone is very low, as most of the device will most likely burn up and deteriorate en route.

It's coming home.

Though some components are expected to survive, NASA said the chance of it causing injury to humans is 'approximately 1 in 9,400'.

The 5,400-pound satellite was initially launched from the Space Shuttle Challenger in October 1984 as part of NASA's three-satellite Earth Radiation Budget Experiment mission.

It features three instruments, all of which were designed to study how the earth absorbed and radiated energy from the sun and make measurements of stratospheric ozone, water vapour, nitrogen dioxide and aerosols.

NASA explained in a statement: "The energy budget, the balance between the amount of energy from the Sun that Earth absorbs or radiates, is an important indicator of climate health, and understanding it can also help reveal weather patterns.

"Ozone concentrations in the stratosphere play an important role in protecting life on Earth from damaging ultraviolet radiation."

Although the satellite was only meant to carry out these duties for two years, it went on to operate until 2005, marking 21 years on the job.

As for when it's set to plummet back home, the space agency predicts it will be back at around 6:40pm EST on Sunday, give or take 17 hours.

No one's entirely sure where it will land, although the Aerospace Corporation is currently tracking huge areas of Africa, Asia and North and South America.

NASA added: "ERBS far exceeded its expected two-year service life, operating until its retirement in 2005.

"Its observations helped researchers measure the effects of human activities on Earth’s radiation balance.

Most of the satellite will be burned up by the earth's atmosphere.

"NASA has continued to build on the success of the ERBE mission with projects including the current Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) suite of satellite instruments."

Since the news about the space junk dropped, a number of people have commented on the situation and unsurprisingly, there were a few jokes.

"As a fellow 38-year-old why can't I retire?" said one, while another quipped, "We live in a throw away culture smh."

A third added: "Yeah, stay the hell over there away from me. I know my luck. It's bad."

Featured Image Credit: NASA

Topics: Space, NASA, Science, World News