We all eventually have to retire, but some of us get to do so in a blaze of glory. Over the weekend, one NASA satellite is set to retire —or die— by burning up in the atmosphere as it falls back to Earth. Talk about a glorious final goodbye!
"The OGO 1 spacecraft, is the first of a series of six Orbiting Geophysical Observatories. It was launched to conduct diversified geophysical experiments to obtain a better understanding of the earth as a planet and to develop and operate a standardized observatory-type satellite," read NASA's page on the soon to be retired satellite.
OGO 1 was launched back in September 1964 and successfully gathered data until 1969. It was officially decommissioned in 1971 but continued to stay in space after that, zooming around Earth on a two-day orbit.
You have to give it credit. It lasted pretty long in space as all of its siblings have already returned to Earth with the latest entering the atmosphere back in 2011. The other satellites were launched in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969, all after OGO 1 had already found its place around our blue planet.
Observations from the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) and the University of Hawaii's Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) both detected OGO 1 on its way to Earth and researchers at the CSS, the Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and the European Space Agency's NEO Coordination Center successfully identified the satellite.
They estimated that OGO-1 will reenter Earth's atmosphere, decomposing in the process, on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, at about 5:10 p.m. EDT, over the South Pacific approximately halfway between Tahiti and the Cook Islands. If you are worried that the satellite may collide with the Earth, rest assured its reentry is perfectly safe.
"The spacecraft will break up in the atmosphere and poses no threat to our planet — or anyone on it — and this is a normal final operational occurrence for retired spacecraft," said NASA officials in their update on OGO 1. Goodbye OGO 1!