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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid