Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Satellite Is Falling To Earth, And No One Knows Where It Will Land

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A Satellite Is Falling To Earth, And No One Knows Where It Will Land

By Sara Gates
The Huffington Post
11-8-13

     The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Actually, it's just a defunct satellite.

The European Space Agency's Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer, or GOCE, satellite is falling to Earth.

While the bulk of the one-ton satellite is expected to disintegrate in Earth's atmosphere, fragments of the craft will reach the surface of the planet on Sunday or Monday. The spacecraft will likely break into as many as 45 pieces, the heaviest of which could weigh 200 pounds, before it reaches the surface.

Just where will the pieces land? The agency has no idea.

"It’s rather hard to predict where the spacecraft will re-enter and impact,” Rune Floberghagen, GOCE's mission manager, told The New York Times. "Quite literally GOCE is now nearly flying like an airplane without an engine, with the upper layer of the atmosphere providing aerodynamic stabilization."

Should earthlings be worried? . . .


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