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Reentry into Earth’s atmosphere

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ESA / Applications / Observing the Earth / GOCE

On 21 October 2013, the GOCE mission came to a natural end when it ran out of fuel and the satellite began its descent towards Earth.

Data acquisition and satellite operations continued for nearly three weeks. The Gradiometer was switched off in the afternoon on 10 November, but contact with the satellite continued to be made during the following hours.

At about 01:16 CET on 11 November 2013, GOCE reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the South Atlantic Ocean near the Falkland Islands.

An international campaign involving the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee and ESA’s Space Debris Office monitored the reentry.

While most of the 1100 kg satellite disintegrated in the atmosphere, an estimated 25% reached Earth’s surface. A Falkland Islander managed to catch GOCE on camera as it disintegrated and burned in the atmosphere.

Timeline of GOCE’s final days in orbit.

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