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European Space Agency’s Goce satellite falls to Earth

The European Space Agency’s (Esa) Goce satellite has re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, burning up in the process.

US tracking data suggests any surviving debris fell into the South Atlantic, just off the tip of South America, south of the Falkland Islands.

Dubbed the “Ferrari of space” because of its sleek looks, Goce is the first Esa mission to make an uncontrolled re-entry in more than 25 years.

The gravity mapping probe’s plunge was inevitable once it ran out of fuel.

The mission was operating in an extremely low orbit – at 224km altitude, the lowest of any scientific satellite – and needed to constantly thrust an electric engine to stay aloft, but last month its reserves of xenon fuel were exhausted.

Pre-return modelling had indicated that perhaps a fifth to a quarter of Goce’s one-tonne mass could have endured the fiery fall through the atmosphere.

Its sophisticated gradiometer – the instrument used to make gravity measurements – incorporated composite materials which were expected to ride out the destructive forces that would ordinarily incinerate traditional components.

Read the full story on BBC News

Category: World News |

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Last updated December 5, 2016 at 9:13 AM
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