12:57 11 November 2013
European Space Agency’s Goce satellite, which is dubbed as the “Ferrari of space” because of its sleek looks, has re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere after it run out of fuel.
The satellite was burned in the process. Early estimates say that surviving debris may have fallen somewhere a long a path through East Asia and the Western Pacific to Antarctica.
The mission was operating at 224km altitude, which is considered the lowest of any scientific satellite. Last month its fuel reserves were exhausted.
The satellite was last observed at 22:42 GMT on Sunday as it passed 121km above Antarctica.
Space Ferrari’s uncontrolled re-entry to Earth is a first incident of its kind in more than 25 years. ESA’s last mission to make uncontrolled re-entry was recorded in 1987. However, the agency regularly manages controlled re-entries. Its space station freighter can weigh some 13 tonnes when it comes back to Earth.
Goce (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) was launched in 2009 to detect the tiny variations in the pull of gravity across the surface of the Earth.
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