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It Came From the SkyThe European Space Agency's GOCE satellite fell to Earth on Nov. 10, 2013 to meet a fiery doom during re-entry.
Full Story: 1-ton European Satellite Falls to Earth in Fiery Death Dive The gravity-mapping GOCE satellite weighed about 1 ton and was about 17 feet long (5.3 meters). That's pretty big, but much larger satellites have made uncontrolled re-entries over the years.
Take a look at some of the most massive spacecraft to ever come crashing to Earth outside of their operators' supervision.
Editor's note: Russia's Mir space station is included here as a reference for comparison (due to its massive size), but it was intentionally deorbited in a controlled manner in 2001.
This countdown was last updated with the July 27, 2016 fall to Earth of China's Long March 7 rocket's second stage.
FIRST STOP: NASA's Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite
Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS)Slide 2 of 17
Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS)The 6.5-ton UARS satellite was 35 feet (10.7 m) long and 15 feet (4.5 m) wide. NASA's space shuttle Discovery deployed the climate satellite in September 1991 on the orbiter's STS-48 mission.
UARS studied Earth's atmosphere for 14 years, measuring many key chemicals that are still being tracked by other craft today. UARS also provided important information about the amount of light that comes from the sun at ultraviolet and visible wavelengths. The $750 million satellite was decommissioned by NASA in December 2005 and fell to Earth in September 2011.
Researchers estimated that about 1,170 pounds (532 kilograms) of UARS' 6.5-ton bulk likely survived re-entry.
NEXT STOP: SkylabSlide 3 of 17
SkylabSlide 4 of 17
SkylabNASA launched the Skylab space station in 1973, and a total of three manned missions visited the 85-ton space station in 1973 and 1974. NASA originally envisioned Skylab to stay on orbit for a decade or so, but that didn't happen. Higher-than-expected solar activity heated and expanded Earth's atmosphere, increasing the drag on Skylab. By the middle of 1979, it was ready to come down. There wasn't much NASA could do to control the outpost's re-entry, but the space agency was able to manage some of Skylab's tumbling maneuvers.
On July 11, 1979, Skylab returned to Earth, burning up over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia. Some large chunks survived re-entry, making landfall southeast of Perth and elsewhere. Nobody was hurt, but the Australian town of Esperance charged NASA $400 for littering.
NASA, however, never paid up. A California radio DJ took care of the fine in 2009 after collecting donations from his listeners. [Vote for the Best Manned Spaceships]
NEXT STOP: Pegasus 2Slide 5 of 17
Pegasus 2Slide 6 of 17
Pegasus 2NASA launched the 11.6-ton Pegasus 2 satellite in 1965 to study the abundance of micrometeoroids in low-Earth orbit. [Latest news for falling space junk]
Pegasus 2 gathered data and beamed it home for about three years, then zipped around Earth for another 11 years, during which time its orbit got progressively lower and lower. The satellite finally came down on Nov. 3, 1979, but the debris splashed down harmlessly in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.
NEXT STOP: Salyut 7Slide 7 of 17
Salyut 7Slide 8 of 17