Feeds

Falkland Islands almost BLITZED from space by plunging European ion-rocket craft

Sheep may safely graze

Boost IT visibility and business value

Updated The European Space Agency (ESA) has kindly let the planet know that the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer – GOCE – has re-entered earth's atmosphere, apparently without incident.

Artist

GOCE during its mission

The demise of the craft was expected, because it ran out of fuel in October: GOCE was required to orbit especially low for its mission, and despite being a streamlined dart (unlike most satellites) it needed continual thrust from its pair of ion rockets to maintain orbital velocity against the drag of the wispy upper atmosphere.

The ESA - whose boffins have been known to refer to the GOCE as a "Ferrari" among spacecraft - did at least offer estimates of "a re-entry time window between 22:50 UTC on 10 November and 00:50 UTC on 11 November (23:50-01:50 CET)" and suggest "The most probable re-entry area lies on a descending orbit pass that mainly runs across the Pacific and the Indian Ocean."

In other words, somewhere on about half the surface of the world, albeit the most watery bits.

Complicating matters further for the nervous, the New York Times speculated that 100-pound bits of GOCE could rain down on us all.

The ESA crew blogging GOCE's demise helpfully went to bed before the satellite re-entered, but didn't tuck themselves in without promising a press release would be emitted once something about the satellite's fate was known.

Thankfully that press release has been issued and offered the following reassuring message:

"Close to 01:00 CET on Monday 11 November, ESA’s GOCE satellite reentered Earth’s atmosphere on a descending orbit pass that extended across Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica. As expected, the satellite disintegrated in the high atmosphere and no damage to property has been reported."

As we've noted, however, the locales mentioned above represent a jolly big chunk of Earth's surface. Just how the ESA can guarantee no property damage mere hours after GOCE re-entered the atmosphere is anyone's guess, especially as someone dealing with a red-hot chunk of satellite in their locale is unlikely to be in a position to phone in the news.

The Reg will therefore update this story again if news of just where GOCE came to grief comes to hand, although as our Sydney office borders the Pacific Ocean you can take a lack of any further news of any sort to mean the ESA got this one very badly wrong.

Incidentally, the bird cost $470m if you include its launcher and operations in that price tag. ®

Updated to Add

The ESA has now relayed US Strategic Command space tracking data which shows that any surviving bits of GOCE will have plunged into the South Atlantic not far from the Falkland Islands.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?