NASA satellite actually crashes in the Sahara

The RHESSI satellite, which everyone blamed for making a noise in Kyiv, actually fell to the ground much later that night. The US Department of Defense reported that it happened over the Sahara Desert in Africa.

The RHESSI satellite. Source: NASA

RHESSI satellite fell, but not in Kyiv

The old NASA RHESSI solar observation satellite, which was accused of scaring the residents of Kyiv on the evening of April 19, really fell to the Earth. However, the Ukrainian air defense was not involved in this. According to the US Department of Defense, it happened over the Sahara Desert.

It happened at 2:21 a.m. GMT+3 somewhere over the Egypt–Sudan border. This information was confirmed by astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who previously denied the fall of RHESSI on Kyiv.

NASA officials said that most of the spacecraft’s debris probably burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere, although it is expected that some parts may still have reached the surface. But this is a sparsely populated area, so hardly anyone was hurt.

What kind of satellite is this?

RHESSI (short for Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager) was launched into low Earth orbit using a Pegasus XL rocket in 2002. The purpose of its launch was to study the Sun, more precisely, high-energy electrons that are born during flares on our luminary.

The satellite continued operating until 2018. During that long tenure, “RHESSI documented the huge range in solar flare size, from tiny nanoflares to massive superflares tens of thousands of times bigger and more explosive,” NASA representatives wrote.

RHESSI even made discoveries unrelated to flares, for example, improved the measurement of the shape of the Sun and showed that terrestrial gamma-ray flares occurring in the upper atmosphere of our planet were more common than previously thought. 

But in 2018, the satellite exhausted its resources and stopped working. It became part of a giant cloud of space debris from more than 30 thousand fragments orbiting our planet. But in the end, the friction of atmospheric molecules, which, although in small quantities, are present at the altitude where its orbit lay, slowed down the spacecraft and it fell to Earth.

According to

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