Satellite GOCE fell to earth tonight and many people are wondering where it landed. The satellite belongs to the European Space Agency and fell sometime Saturday evening. Satellites fall to earth pretty often, and it is usually easy to estimate where they will land. This was not the case with the GOCE satellite.
The design of the satellite makes it less predictable and although the European Space Agency tried to predict the time and pace of the fall, they had to recalculate several times and eventually decided the satellite would fall between 5:30p.m. and 7:30 p.m. EST. They reported that the satellite had fallen through the atmosphere at 8:45 p.m. but did not say the location where it had landed.
When satellites fall to earth, they are mostly destroyed by the atmosphere. Some small parts can break off and fall to earth and the debris can even scatter across fairly large distances.
The GOCE satellite ran out of fuel almost three weeks ago, but was still orbiting the earth. The European Space Agency promised to update everyone on the location of the fallen satellite as soon as it was discovered, but guessed that it would fall somewhere in either the Pacific or the Indian Ocean.
Image from Creative Commons.