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.

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 15th

    Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 15th

    Tuesday, January 16 2018 2:00 AM EST2018-01-16 07:00:08 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 15th.

    More >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 15th.

    More >>
  • Picture not so perfect: Family shares results of 'professional' photo shoot online

    Picture not so perfect: Family shares results of 'professional' photo shoot online

    Saturday, January 13 2018 12:53 AM EST2018-01-13 05:53:21 GMT
    Pam and Dave ZaringPam and Dave Zaring

    ST. LOUIS, M.O. - Photogenic or not, this certainly isn't what the Zaring family was expecting when they saw the results of their 'professional' photo shoot.  The St. Louis family says they paid $250 to the photographer, who claimed to be a professional. What they got in return was...unique.  "Ok. This is NOT a joke," Pam and Dave Zaring wrote on Facebook. According to the couple's post, their photographer said 'the shadows were really bad ' 

    More >>

    ST. LOUIS, M.O. - Photogenic or not, this certainly isn't what the Zaring family was expecting when they saw the results of their 'professional' photo shoot.  The St. Louis family says they paid $250 to the photographer, who claimed to be a professional. What they got in return was...unique.  "Ok. This is NOT a joke," Pam and Dave Zaring wrote on Facebook. According to the couple's post, their photographer said 'the shadows were really bad ' 

    More >>
  • Airport: Stowing cat in checked luggage 'not recommended way' to travel

    Airport: Stowing cat in checked luggage 'not recommended way' to travel

    Friday, January 12 2018 11:53 PM EST2018-01-13 04:53:41 GMT
    @TSAmedia_LisaF@TSAmedia_LisaF

    ERIE, Pa. - Erie Regional Airport Transportation Security Administration let the cat out of the bag this week. Literally.  A 6-month-old female kitten named "Slim" was spotted curled up among clothing inside a checked bag.  According to the Erie Times-News, 21-year-old Olivia Sari and 21-year-old Nicholas Larrison were flying from Erie, Pennsylvania to Tampa, Florida on New Year's Day when TSA officials were alerted to something peculiar 

    More >>

    ERIE, Pa. - Erie Regional Airport Transportation Security Administration let the cat out of the bag this week. Literally.  A 6-month-old female kitten named "Slim" was spotted curled up among clothing inside a checked bag.  According to the Erie Times-News, 21-year-old Olivia Sari and 21-year-old Nicholas Larrison were flying from Erie, Pennsylvania to Tampa, Florida on New Year's Day when TSA officials were alerted to something peculiar 

    More >>