NASA satellite sent into space by Sally Ride in the 80s will come crashing down this weekend. But the odds of being hit are 1-in-9,400.

In this photo made available by NASA, the space shuttle Challenger launches the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite in 1984.
In this photo made available by NASA, the space shuttle Challenger launches the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite in 1984.NASA via AP
  • A retired NASA satellite is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere this weekend, the agency said.

  • The satellite was launched aboard the Challenger in 1984 by Sally Ride, the first US woman in space.

  • The Department of Defense estimated the 5,400-pound satellite would return Sunday evening.

A satellite that's been in orbit since the 1980s is expected to return to Earth on Sunday night, NASA announced, noting that the chance of being struck by falling debris is "very low."

Most pieces of the retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) will burn upon re-entry, and NASA put the odds of being hit by surviving pieces at 1 in 9,400, the space agency said in a statement.

NASA’s retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere in early January.
NASA’s retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere in early January.Courtesy of NASA.

While the Department of Defense estimated the 5,400-pound satellite would return at about 6:40 pm EST on Sunday, give or take 17 hours, other companies like Aerospace Corp. predict the satellite will show up on Monday morning with a 13-hour margin of error, according to The Associated Press.

On October 5, 1984, the satellite was launched aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, released into orbit with the shuttle's robotic arm operated by Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, per The AP. It was Ride's second and last trip to space preceding her death in 2012, according to the outlet.

The satellite was only expected to work for two years, but it remained in use until its retirement in 2005, according to NASA's press release. The ERBS carried instruments and took measurements relating to the ozone to help track climate health and weather patterns, according to the agency.

Specifically, the ERBS conducted the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II, known as SAGE II, which produced data that confirmed concerns about ozone depletion, according to NASA's press release. Currently, a follow-up experiment known as SAGE III collects similar data on the ozone layer from the International Space Station, according to the agency.

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