‘Ferrari Of Space’ Crashes And Burns In Earth’s Atmosphere : The Two-Way : NPR

5 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on ‘Ferrari Of Space’ Crashes And Burns In Earth’s Atmosphere : The Two-Way : NPR

‘Ferrari Of Space’ Crashes And In Earth’s Atmosphere

An artist’s of the GOCE satellite shows the in its orbit around Earth. four years of studying and gravity fields, GOCE the atmosphere over the Southern Ocean Sunday night.

ESA Medialab

More than a ton of electronics, including an ion engine and that help detect in gravity, crashed into atmosphere Sunday night, the European GOCE satellite its four-year mission. Most of the craft disintegrated when it the atmosphere over the South Ocean; about 25 percent did

The European Space Agency that GOCE — the Gravity and Steady-State Ocean Circulation — experienced atmospheric interface at p.m. ET Sunday. The satellite Earth’s atmosphere less 300 nautical miles south of the Islands, the agency said, data that were by NASA.

While most of the 1100 kg disintegrated in the atmosphere, an estimated 25 reached Earth’s surface, the says .

GOCE ran out of fuel month, beginning a countdown to its destruction. It continued sending to ESA through its final days and yielding its observations about currents as well as air density and speeds in the upper atmosphere.

The central computer temperature is at [176 degrees Fahrenheit] and the is at 84ºC, ESA reported less two hours from the craft’s At an altitude of less than 120 km, the is — against expectations — still

Because its orbit crossed poles, scientists were of where GOCE would down, as NPR reported Saturday. uncertainty lasted into the hours of the satellite’s re-entry — an from ESA on Sunday stated, The probable reentry area on a descending orbit pass mainly runs across the and the Indian Oceans.

The final track of its orbit GOCE over Siberia, of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and Its re-entry occurred east-southeast of the tip of America.

As expected, the satellite in the high atmosphere and no damage to has been reported, ESA said


The satellite was nicknamed a space owing to its sleek and aerodynamic meant to help it maintain a orbit at very low altitude. It on a steady stream of thrust an electric ion engine to compensate for any it encountered.

And in a bit of serendipity, as we looked around for an to put the satellite’s weight of 2,425 into perspective, we found a from last year that an actual Ferrari was built that might just 2,425 pounds. For comparison, a Smart ForTwo weighs around 1,800

One of GOCE’s lasting achievements is to be the mapping of a new geoid, showing in the Earth’s surface. The European explains why that’s important:

A model of Earth’s geoid is for deriving accurate measurements of circulation, sea-level change and ice dynamics. The geoid is also as a reference surface from to map the topographical features on the planet. In a better understanding of variations in the field will lead to a understanding of Earth’s interior, as the physics and dynamics associated volcanic activity and earthquakes.

As for its uncontrolled descent, European had downplayed concerns raised by who were alarmed by the thought of a orbiter crashing to Earth at

Statistically speaking, it is 250,000 more probable to win the jackpot in the Lotto than to get hit by a GOCE says the head of ESA’s Debris Office, Heiner

The 1-ton GOCE satellite is a small fraction of the 100–150 of man-made space objects re-enter Earth’s atmosphere Klinkrad says. In the 56 years of some 15,000 tons of space objects have the atmosphere without causing a human injury to date.

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