Satellite Headed Towards Earth Incinerates Upon Entering Atmosphere
A 2,000-pound satellite had been on its way towards Earth for the last month after it ran out of gas before re-entering the atmosphere on Sunday when the majority of it disintegrated.
The GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) reentered Earth’s atmosphere at 7 p.m. EST. Its descending orbit pass stretched across Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica. While most of the spacecraft disintegrated, 25% of it is thought to have landed in the ocean.
"As expected, the satellite disintegrated in the high atmosphere and no damage to property has been reported," a report on the European Space Agency’s website read. It had hit the atmosphere just south of the Falkland Islands in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean.
The GOCE, at 17.4 feet long, had been orbiting Earth since March 2009. While it’s been up in space at the lowest altitude of any research satellite to date, it had been mapping variations in Earth’s gravity. The satellite, dubbed the "Ferrari of Space" because of its sleek design, was even able to pick up the infrasound waves caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011.
– Chelsea Regan