1.2-Ton Satellite Falls To Its Fiery Doom Over Atlantic Ocean - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

1.2-Ton Satellite Falls To Its Fiery Doom Over Atlantic Ocean

Posted: Updated:

KHQ.COM - The European Space Agency says its 1.2-ton GOCE gravity-mapping satellite plunged through the atmosphere on Sunday and broke up into bits over the South Atlantic Ocean.

In an online update, ESA said that GOCE re-entered Earth's atmosphere around 7:16 p.m. ET Sunday (0016 GMT Monday). The agency said that assessment was made after consultation with the U.S. Strategic Command, which monitors orbital debris.

The satellite hit the atmosphere over a spot due south of the Falkland Islands, around the coordinates of 60 degrees west and 56 degrees south, ESA said. "This would put the main area over which any possible GOCE remnants fell to the southernmost regions of the Atlantic Ocean," ESA's Daniel Scuka said.

About 500 pounds (250 kilograms) worth of debris was expected to have survived the car-sized satellite's re-entry, but no damage or eyewitness sightings of the fiery plunge were immediately reported.

GOCE gave up the ghost last month when its fuel ran out, marking the end of a four-year-long scientific mission. Its orbit gradually decayed over the course of the past few weeks, leading to Sunday's uncontrolled atmospheric re-entry. Previous satellite plunges, such as last year's fall of the 14-ton Russia's Phobos-Grunt probe, have sparked alarms about the potential threat from falling debris — but ESA downplayed the potential threat from GOCE because of its significantly smaller mass.

GOCE is an acronym standing for Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer: The satellite was launched in 2009 to trace Earth's gravitational field in unprecedented detail. In 2011, for example, its sophisticated instruments picked up the infrasound waves generated by Japan's earthquake and tsunami. That led ESA to call GOCE the "first seismometer in orbit."

The $450 million satellite's sleek design, produced by a French-Italian venture called Thales Alenia Space, earned it another nickname: the Ferrari of space. Now that space speedster has finally crashed.

  • National NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: Joan Rivers 'Resting Comfortably' at Mount Sinai in New York

    UPDATE: Joan Rivers 'Resting Comfortably' at Mount Sinai in New York

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:45 AM EDT2014-08-29 04:45:02 GMT
    NEW YORK (AP) - Comedian Joan Rivers is in a New York City hospital, according to police and hospital officials who say she was rushed there from a doctor's office after going into cardiac arrest.Rivers' daughter later issued a statement about her mother's condition.More >>
    NEW YORK (AP) - Comedian Joan Rivers is in a New York City hospital, according to police and hospital officials who say she was rushed there from a doctor's office after going into cardiac arrest.Rivers' daughter later issued a statement about her mother's condition.
    More >>
  • VA: No proof delays in veteran care caused hospital deaths

    VA: No proof delays in veteran care caused hospital deaths

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 9:11 PM EDT2014-08-27 01:11:37 GMT
    KHQ.COM- The Department of Veterans Affairs says there's no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.Revelations that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care rocked the agency this past spring, bringing to light scheduling problems and allegations of misconduct at other hospitals as well.NBC News obtained a draft report from the VA's Office of Inspector General Tuesday. The draft report says while investigators found substantial delays in care an...More >>
    KHQ.COM- The Department of Veterans Affairs says there's no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.Revelations that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care rocked the agency this past spring, bringing to light scheduling problems and allegations of misconduct at other hospitals as well.NBC News obtained a draft report from the VA's Office of Inspector General Tuesday. The draft report says while investigators found substantial delays in care an...More >>
  • UPDATE: Sergeant who shot herself at Fort Lee dies

    UPDATE: Sergeant who shot herself at Fort Lee dies

    Monday, August 25 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-08-25 22:58:27 GMT
    Police officer patrols the entrance of Fort Lee in VirginiaPolice officer patrols the entrance of Fort Lee in Virginia
    FORT LEE, Va. (AP) - A commanding general at a Virginia Army base says an enraged soldier with a gun barricaded herself in an office, then shot herself in the head as officials tried to negotiate with her.More >>
    FORT LEE, Va. (AP) - A commanding general at a Virginia Army base says an enraged soldier with a gun barricaded herself in an office, then shot herself in the head as officials tried to negotiate with her. Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons says the soldier went on a rampage, throwing objects. More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KHQ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.