News / Science & Technology

European Satellite Breaks Up, Burns on Return to Earth

Artist rendering of GOCE in orbit.  The spacecraft's orbit is so low that it experiences drag from the outer edges of Earth's atmosphere.  (© ESA /AOES Medialab)
Artist rendering of GOCE in orbit. The spacecraft's orbit is so low that it experiences drag from the outer edges of Earth's atmosphere. (© ESA /AOES Medialab)
VOA News
A European satellite that ran out of fuel re-entered the Earth's atmosphere early Monday, with some pieces falling harmlessly into the sea.

The European Space Agency’s Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer satellite surrendered to the laws of gravity, dropped from its orbit and fell toward Earth.

The ESA's Space Debris Office said the satellite, known as GOCE, reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the southern Atlantic Ocean, near the Falkland Islands. The spacecraft began its descent to Earth during a final orbital pass that took it over Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica.

All but about 25 percent of the 1,100-kilogram spacecraft disintegrated in the high atmosphere. ESA said any remaining remnants of GOCE fell harmlessly into the southern Atlantic Ocean. No injuries or property damage have been reported as a result of the spacecraft’s return to Earth.  

ESA said the GOCE mission came to an end in the middle of October when it ran out of its xenon fuel and began dropping from its orbit at a height of about 224 kilometers above Earth.

New geoid produced from GOCE data. The colors in the image represent deviations in height (–100 m to +100 m) from an ideal geoid. The blue shades represent low values and the reds/yellows represent high values. (© ESA/HPF/DLR)New geoid produced from GOCE data. The colors in the image represent deviations in height (–100 m to +100 m) from an ideal geoid. The blue shades represent low values and the reds/yellows represent high values. (© ESA/HPF/DLR)
x
New geoid produced from GOCE data. The colors in the image represent deviations in height (–100 m to +100 m) from an ideal geoid. The blue shades represent low values and the reds/yellows represent high values. (© ESA/HPF/DLR)
New geoid produced from GOCE data. The colors in the image represent deviations in height (–100 m to +100 m) from an ideal geoid. The blue shades represent low values and the reds/yellows represent high values. (© ESA/HPF/DLR)
Following its launch on March 17, 2009, from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia, the GOCE was able to precisely map variations in Earth’s gravity.

As a result of its mapping efforts, ESA scientists said that they were able to create the most accurate shape of the ‘geoid’ that had ever been produced.  

The ‘geoid’ is the shape the surface of the oceans would have if only influenced by the gravity and rotation of the Earth, and without the effects of other common factors such as winds and tides.  

With this map, scientists will be able to better understand ocean circulation, sea level, ice dynamics and the Earth’s interior.

The GOCE also provided the data that allowed for the creation of the first global high-resolution map of the ‘Mohorovicic Discontinuity’ or Moho, which is the boundary between Earth’s crust and mantle.  

Among its other accomplishments, the low orbiting GOCE also detected sound waves from the massive earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011.

The GOCE spacecraft with its sleek, aerodynamic design and unique electrically powered ion propulsion engine was also referred to as the ‘Ferrari of space.’

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Doris Bean from: Phoenix, Arizona. USA
November 13, 2013 11:51 PM
I found this article very interesting.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid