A 2.9-Ton ISS Battery Pallet Is Crashing To Earth And Not All Of It Will Burn Up During Reentry

hero ep 9 battery
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), a 2.9-ton battery pallet was released from the International Space Station (ISS) on January 11, 2021. While most of the pallet, which comprises nine batteries in total, will burn up upon reentry, the ESA reports some parts will survive the trip and come crashing into the ground..

During a visit to the International Space Station in 2020, Japan’s HTV9 cargo ship left behind the 2.9-to EP-9 battery pallet carrying 9 discarded Station batteries, and later thrown overboard by the Canadarm-2. A little over three years later, the space junk will make its way back to Earth. At this time, the reentry of the ISS batteries is expected between approximately 2:35pm EST and 9:25pm on March 8, 2024. According to Jonathon McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, approximately 1/2 a ton of fragments may hit the Earth’s surface.

The European Space Agency remarked that a large space object reenters the atmosphere naturally about once a week, with most of the associated fragments burning up during reentry. The space agency added that most spacecraft, launch vehicles, and operational hardware are designed to limit the risks associated with a reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

The reentry zone of the EP-9 battery pallet effectively stretches from -51.6deg south to 51.6deg north, according to the ESA. A chart showing the ground track of the battery pallet can be viewed below.

iss battery pallet ground track esa

In an interview with Gizmodo in 2021, NASA spokesperson Leah Cheshier remarked that the pallet “was the largest object, mass wise, ever jettisoned from the International Space Station at 2.9 tons, more than twice the mass of the Early Ammonia Servicing System tank jettisoned by spacewalker Clay Anderson during the STS-118 mission in 2007.”

Because of the immense area where the EP-9 battery pallet could make reentry, it is extremely difficult to know who should watch for the sky to be falling later today. Hopefully, any remains of the battery pallet that make it to Earth’s surface will land with no harm done.
Tags:  space, Earth, ESA, iss, space junk