Update on GOCE from ESOC

Today’s update on GOCE was provided by the Spacecraft Operations Manager, Christoph Steiger, at ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany.

Following depletion of fuel last Monday, GOCE’s orbit has decayed by about 5.5 km in the last days. As of today, the spacecraft is at an altitude of roughly 218.5 km. As expected at this early stage of the decay, drag levels are rather low and the spacecraft is behaving as expected. GOCE’s attitude and orbit control system is now in the so-called Fine Pointing Mode, the normal operational mode during orbital decay.

GOCE is controlled from ESOC, ESA's mission operations centre, Darmstadt, Germany.

GOCE in orbit. Credit: ESA /AOES Medialab

Standard operations activities like spacecraft monitoring & control and orbit determination & prediction are proceeding routinely, albeit with improved ground station coverage and augmented team profiles (i.e. extra folks on duty – Ed.) for the operations teams at ESOC.

We are keeping a close eye on the performance of the spacecraft subsystems as it descends. Some special assessments are now being done on a regular basis for the star sensors and the coarse Earth-Sun sensor, which are expected to yield novel information on the performance of these units at extremely low altitudes. We are also using acceleration data from GOCE’s super-precise Gradiometer to assess the environmental conditions – the drag level – experienced by the spacecraft during the orbital decay.



  • Edgar J. Kaiser says:

    Hi there,
    I am monitoring GOCE’s S-Band signal on 2245 MHz when it is on during passes over the command stations. Will the transmitter be on during the final hours/minutes before re-entry?

    • Daniel says:

      Hi Edgar,

      GOCE Spacecraft Operations Manager Christoph Steiger sent a reply to this:

      The transmitter will be switched off permanently when we stop operating the spacecraft. The precise time of this depends on the S/C behaviour at extremely low altitudes, but it is expected to occur well before re-entry. Hence the transmitter will not be on in the final hours before re-entry.

  • Rainer Weis says:

    I’m interested in when the entry of GOCE will take place in the Earth’s atmosphere! On the website you can `n2yo.com` good `follow the path of` Goce.

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