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Rainfall research satellite begins descent from orbit

15 August 2014

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A long-lived satellite launched in 1997 to measure rainfall in the tropics has run out of fuel and will probably fall back to Earth within the next three years, NASA officials have stated.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission -- a joint project between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency -- has outlived its original three-year life expectancy, and officials say the satellite will continue collecting science data until early 2016, when the craft's instruments will be switched off to prepare for re-entry.

Pressure readings from the TRMM satellite's fuel tank 8 July indicated the satellite was at the end of its fuel, according to an update posted Tuesday on the mission's website.

"As a result, NASA has ceased station keeping manoeuvres and TRMM has begun its drift downward from its operating altitude of 402 kilometres (250 miles)," the update said.

Source: Spaceflight Now

Image credit: NASA - Artist's concept of TRMM

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