Officials say they have confirmed a 2,000-pound European satellite that has been steadily sinking toward Earth after it ran out of fuel last month has re-entered the atmosphere Sunday, and say most of it likely incinerated.
In a status report posted on the European Space Agency's website, scientists said tracking stations last made contact with the GOCE, or Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, at 5:42 p.m. GMT when it was 75 miles above Antarctica.
Spokesman Robert Meisner tells FoxNews.com the agency has confirmed the GOCE has fallen to Earth, but has not confirmed any other details.
The agency estimates on its website that about 25 percent of the spacecraft survived re-entry and has fallen into the ocean.
"By the time you read this, the spacecraft's amazing flight will, most likely, have come to an end," spokesman Daniel Scuka wrote in an update posted around 6:45 p.m. on the agency's website.
GOCE has been orbiting Earth since March 2009 at the lowest altitude of any research satellite. With a sleek, aerodynamic design meant to eliminate drag on the craft from the planet -- it's been called the "Ferrari of space" -- GOCE has mapped variations in Earth’s gravity, creating a model of the planet's "geoid."
The satellite is 17.4 feet long, according to the European Space Agency. A 2014 Chevrolet Suburban is 18.5 feet long, including the bumpers. The slim satellite is only 1/3 the weight of the truck, however.
As far as anyone knows, falling space debris has never injured anyone -- although one woman came dangerously close. Nor has significant property damage been reported.
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