A European satellite met its fiery doom in Earth’s atmosphere late Sunday, succumbing to the same gravitational pull of the planet that it spent the last four years mapping like never before.
The European Space Agency’s GOCE satellite fell from space Sunday at 7 p.m. EST while flying on a path that would take it over Siberia, the Western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica, ESA officials said.
“As expected, the satellite disintegrated in the high atmosphere and no damage to property has been reported,” ESA officials wrote in a statement.
The spacecraft was about 17 feet (5.3 meters) long and 3.2 feet (1 m) wide, and weighed about 2,425 pounds (1,100 kilograms). The xenon-ion propelled spacecraft was billed as the “Ferrari of space” for its sleek, aerodynamic design and low orbital path during its mission.
“While most of the 1,100 kg satellite disintegrated in the atmosphere, an estimated 25 percent reached Earth’s surface,” ESA officials explained.
GOCE mission managers and scientists with ESA’s Space Debris Office and the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee kept a close watch on the satellite’s re-entry. According to those updates, GOCE appeared to surprise scientists by beaming data to Earth almost until its end. Read more at Huffington Post.