Satellite hits Atlantic _ but what about next one? - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Satellite hits Atlantic _ but what about next one?

Posted:
(AP Photo/European Space Agency,ESA). In his image, publicly provided by the European Space Agency ESA, research satellite GOCE flies above earth. (AP Photo/European Space Agency,ESA). In his image, publicly provided by the European Space Agency ESA, research satellite GOCE flies above earth.
  • More Local NewsMore Local NewsMore>>

  • Probable cause found in beating case

    Probable cause found in beating case

    Manuel WilliamsManuel Williams
    RALEIGH COUNTY- (WVVA) One of two man accused of attacking a man inside his own home was in court for his preliminary hearing. Manuel Williams, 39, appeared in magistrate court in Raleigh County...More >>
    RALEIGH COUNTY- (WVVA) One of two man accused of attacking a man inside his own home was in court for his preliminary hearing. Manuel Williams, 39, appeared in magistrate court in Raleigh County...More >>
  • Businesses in Bluefield West Virginia

    Businesses in Bluefield West Virginia

    BLUEFIELD (WVVA)- A couple of fast food chains in Bluefield,West Virginia are no longer on Cumberland Ave. Wendy's closed for financial reasonsand according to Mark Meachum, President of the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, "Arby's as you're aware, the franchisee claimed bankruptcy in a number of Arbys."Not all businesses in Bluefield are having a hard time.Ahmed Anu the owner of Portobella's says, "Just right now I think to myself, business is good. We did good."His Italian restaurant has been...More >>
    BLUEFIELD (WVVA)- A couple of fast food chains in Bluefield,West Virginia are no longer on Cumberland Ave. Wendy's closed for financial reasonsand according to Mark Meachum, President of the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, "Arby's as you're aware, the franchisee claimed bankruptcy in a number of Arbys."Not all businesses in Bluefield are having a hard time.Ahmed Anu the owner of Portobella's says, "Just right now I think to myself, business is good. We did good."His Italian restaurant has been...More >>
  • Police look for missing man

    Police look for missing man

    William "NIck" DanielWilliam "NIck" Daniel
    RALEIGH CO. (WVVA) – Police in Beckley are looking for a man who went missing last week.William “Nick” Daniel, 26, was last seen July 24...More >>
    RALEIGH CO. (WVVA) – Police in Beckley are looking for a man who went missing last week.William “Nick” Daniel, 26, was last seen July 24...More >>
By DAVID RISING
Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) - This time it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean - but what about next time?

The European Space Agency says one of its research satellites re-entered the Earth's atmosphere early Monday on an orbit that passed over Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica.

The 1,100-kilogram (2,425-pound) satellite disintegrated in the atmosphere but about 25 percent of it - about 275 kilograms (600 pounds) of "space junk" - slammed into the Atlantic between Antarctica and South America, a few hundred kilometers (miles) from the Falkland Islands, ESA said. It caused no known damage.

The satellite - called the GOCE, for Gravity field and Ocean Circulation Explorer - was launched in 2009 to map the Earth's gravitational field. The information is being used to understand ocean circulation, sea levels, ice dynamics and the Earth's interior. The satellite had been gradually descending in orbit over the last three weeks after running out of fuel Oct. 21.

But how much space junk is out there? Here's a look:

SPACE JUNK FLYING AROUND THE COSMOS

Some 6,600 satellites have been launched. Some 3,600 remain in space but only about 1,000 are still operational, according to ESA. Not all are still intact, and the U.S. Space Surveillance Network tracks some 23,000 space objects, ESA said. A lot of junk comes down unnoticed, said ESA Space Debris Office deputy head Holger Krag. Statistically, he said, "roughly every week you have a re-entry like GOCE."

AND WHEN IT STARTS TO FALL

About 100 to 150 metric tons (110 to 165 tons) of space junk re-enters Earth's atmosphere each year, according to Heiner Klinkrad, the head of ESA's Space Debris Office. In 56 years of spaceflight, a total of 15,000 metric tons (16,500 tons) of human-made space objects have re-entered the atmosphere.

HOW FAST ARE WE TALKING?

Space junk - mostly satellites and rocket stages or fragments - typically travels at about 28,000 km/h (17,400 mph) shortly before re-entry at about 120 kilometers (75 miles) above the earth, according to ESA. It starts to slow down and heat up in the dense atmosphere. In the last 10 minutes, it hits a travelling speed roughly equal to that of a Formula One racing car -between 200 kph to 300 kph (125 mph to 190 mph).

HOW DANGEROUS IS SPACE JUNK?

There have been no known human injuries or significant property damage caused by space junk, according to ESA. Unlike meteorites, which hurl into the Earth as solid chunks travelling about three times faster, space junk typically falls as fragments and is distributed over a fallout zone up to 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) long. Krag says fragments from a satellite came down in 2011 over the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic but no pieces were ever found.

CAN'T WE REDIRECT THIS STUFF?

When systems are still functioning, spacecraft can be maneuvered to try and direct them to land in areas where there would be minimal impact, like into an ocean. In the case of uncontrolled re-entries, scientists are able to predict where the impact will be - but that can be a very wide swath. The GOCE satellite's systems kept on working much longer than expected, providing data that Krag said will be invaluable in helping scientists figure out prediction models for future space junk descents.

MOST FAMOUS SPACE JUNK CRASHES

One of the best-known cases is NASA's Skylab space station, which re-entered in 1979. About 74 metric tons (82 tons) hit the Earth - some of it in Australia and the rest falling into the Indian Ocean. Fragments of Russia's Mir space station weighing about 135 metric tons (149 tons) came down in 2001 in a controlled dive into the Pacific Ocean. More recently, in 2011, NASA's UARS satellite crashed into the Pacific and Germany's ROSAT satellite landed in the Bay of Bengal. None caused any damage.

  • NEWSMore>>

  • UPDATE: Names released in shooting investigation

    UPDATE: Names released in shooting investigation

    MERCER CO. (WVVA) –A shooting investigation is underway Mercer County...More >>
    MERCER CO. (WVVA) –A shooting investigation is underway Mercer County...More >>
  • Pro-coal rally held in Pittsburgh in wake of EPA hearings

    Pro-coal rally held in Pittsburgh in wake of EPA hearings

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are rallying in Pittsburgh to oppose new proposed pollution regulations...More >>
    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are rallying in Pittsburgh to oppose new proposed pollution regulations...More >>
  • UPDATE: Security footage released of robbery

    UPDATE: Security footage released of robbery

    GREENBRIER CO. (WVVA) –Security footage has been released of a robbery at a video lottery parlor. The suspect made off with about $8000 in cash, taken from the register and safe at Abies in Fairlea on the night of July 27...More >>
    GREENBRIER CO. (WVVA) –Security footage has been released of a robbery at a video lottery parlor. The suspect made off with about $8000 in cash, taken from the register and safe at Abies in Fairlea on the night of July 27...More >>
  • Back to School Bash planned for Hinton

    Back to School Bash planned for Hinton

    Hinton, WV – The REACHH-Family Resource Center, Children’s Home Society and Youth Opportunities are teaming up to sponsor the First Annual “Back to School BASH”. On Thursday, August 7, students in grades 6-12 are invited to the Memorial Building in Hinton from 6:00-8:00 pm for an evening of music (live DJ), food and snacks, a juice bar, door prizes and giveaways, a photo booth for candids of you and your friends and more. The first 100 students will receive book bags chocked full of school su...More >>
    Hinton, WV – The REACHH-Family Resource Center, Children’s Home Society and Youth Opportunities are teaming up to sponsor the First Annual “Back to School BASH”. On Thursday, August 7, students in grades 6-12 are invited to the Memorial Building in Hinton from 6:00-8:00 pm for an evening of music (live DJ), food and snacks, a juice bar, door prizes and giveaways, a photo booth for candids of you and your friends and more. The first 100 students will receive book bags chocked full of school su...More >>
  • Virginia sales tax holiday approaching

    Virginia sales tax holiday approaching

    Virginia is giving shoppers a break on buying back-to-school supplies. Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office says the annual back-to-school sales tax holiday will begin Friday and run through Sunday. During the three-day holiday, shoppers at retail stores statewide won't have to pay sales tax on notebooks, pens, calculators, binders and other school supplies priced up to $20. Shoes and most clothing items priced up to $100 also will be exempt from the sales tax. The Department of Taxation has posted ...More >>
    Virginia is giving shoppers a break on buying back-to-school supplies. Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office says the annual back-to-school sales tax holiday will begin Friday and run through Sunday. During the three-day holiday, shoppers at retail stores statewide won't have to pay sales tax on notebooks, pens, calculators, binders and other school supplies priced up to $20. Shoes and most clothing items priced up to $100 also will be exempt from the sales tax. The Department of Taxation has posted ...More >>
  • Single-vehicle accident backs up I-77 traffic for miles

    Single-vehicle accident backs up I-77 traffic for miles

    GHENT, W.Va. -- Traffic came to a halt on Interstate 77 Wednesday evening, just past the tollbooth.Emergency dispatchers tell WVVA a vehicle crashed near mile marker 35 around 6:30 p.m. Traffic was backed up for miles.There's no word on any injuries. Ghent Volunteer Fire Department and ambulance services responded.The scene was cleared a little before 8 p.m.More >>
    GHENT, W.Va. -- Traffic came to a halt on Interstate 77 Wednesday evening, just past the tollbooth.Emergency dispatchers tell WVVA a vehicle crashed near mile marker 35 around 6:30 p.m. Traffic was backed up for miles.There's no word on any injuries. Ghent Volunteer Fire Department and ambulance services responded.The scene was cleared a little before 8 p.m.More >>
  • DHHR workers picket outside agency

    DHHR workers picket outside agency

    Fayette Co. (WVVA) -Department of Health and Human Resource workers picket outside the agency’s office in Fayette County...More >>
    Fayette Co. (WVVA) -Department of Health and Human Resource workers picket outside the agency’s office in Fayette County...More >>
  • Additional Lane Closure Expected in East River Mountain Tunnel

    Additional Lane Closure Expected in East River Mountain Tunnel

    (WVVA)- Motorists traveling northbound through the East River Mountain Tunnel can expect some delays as more cleaning and repairs are made...More >>
    (WVVA)- Motorists traveling northbound through the East River Mountain Tunnel can expect some delays as more cleaning and repairs are made...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WVVA.
All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Audrey Sluss at (304) 324-0659. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.