A 5,400-pound NASA satellite that has spent almost the past four decades orbiting Earth sank in a blaze of glory over the weekend. A research satellite called the Earth Radiation Balance Satellite (ERBS) was launched from the Space Shuttle Challenger on October 5, 1984 to collect data on solar energy absorbed by the Earth and radiated back into space to help researchers learn more about the health of the climate. and weather conditions. . The spacecraft operated beyond its expected service life of two years before retiring in 2005.
During its first 21 years in orbit, the spacecraft used three instruments to measure stratospheric concentrations of ozone, water vapor, nitrogen dioxide, and aerosols. Measurements made during the Stratospheric Aerosols and Gases Experiment II (SAGE II) at ERBS confirmed ozone depletion and helped shape the 1987 Montreal Protocol Agreement, an international agreement limiting the use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons worldwide. NASA press release.