Saturday GOCE status update from ESOC

This sent in just a couple hours ago by ESA's GOCE Operations Manager Christoph Steiger, at ESOC.

This morning GOCE was at an altitude of around 160 km. As expected, the drag levels have increased very much, with the average now around 90 mN (milliNewton).

Despite the extreme environmental conditions, we had a problem-free acquisition of signals from the spacecraft this morning (meaning that the ground station found GOCE pretty much in the orbital position it was predicted to be). The attitude control of the spacecraft is performing very well. Data from the Gradiometer is now only usable for part of the orbit, when drag levels are below 80 mN and the accelerometers are hence not saturated.

Recently we have noticed a significant temperature increase in several areas of the spacecraft, arguably linked to GOCE encountering a more and more dense atmosphere as its orbit keeps dropping.

GOCE is expected to fall by over 13 km today, with the final re-entry into the atmosphere probably less than 2 days away.

GOCE completes its mission


  1. […] like a joke but it’s really happening! Reportedly, a European satellite known as GOCE has run out of fuel and has been descending into the […]

  2. cohen says:

    I would like to watch it when it will burn, how can I know where to look and when ?
    Best Regards

    1. Tom says:

      This depends a lot on how much drag the satellite experiences and when, which in turn depends on atmospheric conditions, which nobody is able to predict accurately enough. The final location may not be known until a few hours in advance, if it is calculated beforehand at all.

  3. Joseph says:

    I seen it burn , hour 00.06~ 00.10 italian hour in Sicily.

    A wonderful and terrific orange flame. It stopped a while and has speeded up for north Italy.

  4. Caroline says:

    What about aircrafts / airplanes - is there any danger to them?

  5. muguto says:

    They don't have any idea. Other than the far north & south poles, its orbits cover the whole Earth every 90 minutes. And it has no fuel for control. So anyplace Sunday or Monday.

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