‘Space Ferrari’ crashes to Earth; more space junk coming soon

It's back home, but not looking nearly as sporty as this anymore.

(Credit: European Space Agency)

At some point on Sunday evening, the European Space Agency’s Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer — also known as GOCE or the “Ferrari of Space” for its sleek shape — broke up and crashed back to Earth after spending four years in a low orbit precisely mapping our planet’s gravity.

As for the obvious question about where exactly it crashed, well, there’s been no sightings of fireballs in the sky or reports of damage from falling space junk just yet, but the official word from the ESA is that it re-entered the atmosphere somewhere between Antarctica and Siberia. Turns out that mapping GOCE’s demise is done with a little less precision than the mapping the satellite itself once did.

The agency says it’s likely that the majority of the one-ton craft burned up in the atmosphere, but an estimated 25 percent of it may have reached Earth’s surface, probably landing in the western Pacific or eastern Indian Ocean.

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