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No damage reported after large research satellite re-enters Earth's atmosphere

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By Jaclyn Whittal
Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 6:45 AM

There are no reports of any "space junk" hitting the ground as a research satellite fell back to Earth on Monday.

The European Space Agency says most of the GOCE (Gravity field and Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite, weighing more than a tonne, was expected to burn up in the atmosphere.

It 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.

While most of it disintegrated in the atmosphere, about 25 percent (600 pounds) of "space junk" splashed into the Atlantic Ocean between Antarctica and South America, the ESA says.

The space agency said humans were 250-thousand times more likely to win the lottery than be hit by satellite debris.

GOCE 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 ran out of fuel on October 21 and has been slowly falling out of orbit ever since.

With files from The Canadian Press

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