This update provided by GOCE Operations Manager Christoph Steiger at ESOC.

GOCE is now at an altitude of roughly 205 km, having lost about 19 km since depletion of fuel on 21 October. The atmospheric drag has increased substantially during the orbital decay, from an average of about 8 mN (milli Newton) to above 15 mN.

The spacecraft behaviour is as expected, with the attitude control system continuing to work fine. We keep doing our routine spacecraft operations activities; no major problems have been encountered so far.

The recent rise in solar activity has contributed to a noticeable increase in drag. Interesting days may lie ahead, as several coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are expected to reach our planet, which may spark storms in Earth’s geomagnetic field and hence lead to a large increase in the atmospheric drag at GOCE’s altitude.