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European Space Agency predicts dead satellite likely to return to Earth Wednesday

A handout image of ERS-2, a defunct satellite predicted to re-enter Earth's atmosphere Wednesday.
A handout image of ERS-2, a defunct satellite predicted to re-enter Earth's atmosphere Wednesday.

This story has been updated with the ESA's latest prediction

It went up, therefore it has to come down.

A defunct satellite is set to return to Earth tomorrow after completing its over-a-decade mission.

ERS-2, one of the European Space Agency's first advanced Earth observing satellites, will make a "natural" re-entry after staying in space for 16 years. The agency predicts that the satellite will re-enter the atmosphere on Wednesday around 4 p.m. ET, as of Tuesday afternoon.

The satellite was launched in 1995 and though it was originally planned to serve the ESA for three years, it remained in operation until 2011 providing data for over 5,000 projects. The satellite tracked the planet's shrinking polar ice, sea levels and atmospheric make-up.

In Graphics: A dead satellite will crash back to Earth this Wednesday. What to know.

After its final image, the ESA conducted 66 de-orbiting maneuvers that prevented the satellite from remaining in space for over 100 years.

The majority of the 2.5 ton satellite will disintegrate in Earth's atmosphere, according to the agency. Remaining debris is likely to land in a body of water, though the agency does not have a prediction on where it will land.

How ERS-2 spent its time in space

An infographic detailing the re-entry of ERS-2
An infographic detailing the re-entry of ERS-2

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dead satellite return to Earth predicted for Wednesday