Tag Archives: reentry

Returning to Earth: GOCE and Soyuz TMA-09M and the Olympic Torch

The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) has fallen back to Earth.  The impact location is unknown, but given the time of its final contact with ground tracking stations, it probably came down over the Arctic or possibly the Pacific Ocean.  Ground stations are no longer able to track it, so it’s gone.  The spacecraft was still active and providing good data during the last contact with ESA’s Troll tracking station, but without propellant it was helpless to prevent its fall.  During the last contact, it was only 122 km high, barely above the Karman Line.  This completes its highly successful gravity-mapping mission.

On a more positive note, Soyuz TMA-09M is also returning to Earth.  The crew are Fyodor Yurchikhin, Karen Nyberg, and Luca Parmitano.  They’re carrying with them the Olympic torch carried up by Soyuz TMA-11M and brought outside the station.  They departed the station just before 5:30PM CST, and will return to Earth in Kazakhstan in a little over an hour from now.

Watch the return live on NASA TV!

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