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GOCE satellite expected to reenter Sunday night
Posted: Sat, Nov 9, 2013, 9:20 AM ET (1420 GMT)
GOCE illustration (ESA) A European satellite in a decaying orbit is expected to reenter late Sunday or early Monday, but poses very little risk to people on Earth. ESA's Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, or GOCE, launched in 2009 to map the Earth's gravity field in high detail, providing information on the planet's interior as well as circulation patters in the oceans. The spacecraft maintained its low orbit with ion thrusters, exhausting the xenon fuel for them last month. Since then the orbit of the spacecraft has decayed, and ESA officials now believe the spacecraft will reenter Sunday night. Some debris from the one-ton spacecraft will survive reentry, but the odds of any debris causing damage or injury is extremely low, ESA believes.
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