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WASHINGTON, D.C., USA (June 5, 2000 – Radio Australia)---A research satellite which has been in orbit for nine years has splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.

The U.S. space agency NASA, announced that the $1.2 billion Compton Gamma Ray Observatory landed, where planned, about 4,000 kilometers (2,400 miles) southeast of Hawai‘i.

Most of the observatory burned up in the earth's atmosphere, but about six tons of debris crashed into the ocean.

The decision to destroy the satellite was made after it lost one of its stabilizing mechanisms.

Donald Kniffen, a scientists with the Goddars Space Flight Center in the U.S. state of Maryland, defended the decision to bring the space craft back in a controlled burn, saying its useful life was already longer than originally anticipated.

"It went very well. Till the very end, this spacecraft performed just beautifully.

"I think in the long run, we will focus on the great nine years we had with this mission - a mission that was only designed for two years on orbit.

"At the time of launch, they had extended it to a five-year mission. Now we have nine years of just marvelous data."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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