The day has finally come.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed that, at around 1 a.m. Central European Time (7 p.m. EST), the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite succumbed to gravity and the drag of our planet's upper atmosphere. The exact location where the satellite reentered is currently unknown, but "the satellite disintegrated in the high atmosphere and no damage to property has been reported," ESA reported in a news release.
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When tracking stations lost radio contact with the gravity probe, GOCE was on "a descending orbit pass that extended across Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica," writes the agency.
There have been no reported sightings of the reentering spacecraft.
GOCE was launched in March 2009 to take unprecedented measurements of our planet's gravitational field (or ‘geoid') and quickly become an orbiting celebrity due to its sleek, aerodynamic design. The highly successful mission maintained its low, 260 kilometer (160 mile) orbit through the use of an innovative ion drive that allowed GOCE to overcome the persistent drag of the thin atmosphere at that altitude.