Update 2: The European Space Agency reports no known damage.
Update 1: GOCE was last observed at 22:42 Greenwich Mean Time on Sunday as it passed 75 miles above Antarctica, the BBC reports. Early estimates suggest any debris could have fallen somewhere along a path through East Asia and the Western Pacific to Antarctica.
Original post: Ready or not, here it comes. A 1-ton European Space Agency satellite is about to fall out of orbit and hit the Earth on Sunday or Monday. As it enters the atmosphere, it will break up into pieces, with many vaporizing.
But a chunk of molten metal as heavy as 200 pounds is likely to make a thud, or a splash.
Still, scientists describe the “uncontrolled entry” with sangfroid. The satellite has completed its mission and run out of gas. About 100 tons of space junk falls out of the sky every year. Besides, the Earth’s surface is 70 percent H20, they point out, so it’s likely to fall in the water.
But if you’re really worried, there’s an app for that: n2yo lets you can track the satellite in its disintegrating orbit.
The satellite — GOCE, short for Gravity Field and Steady State Ocean Circulation Observer — is a fast, little sprite, orbiting Earth once every 88 minutes. When I started writing this, it was over the Indian Ocean. Now, it’s moving over Antarctica.
Go here to watch GOCE.