GOCE re-entry forecast from ESA’s Space Debris Office

Update from Heiner Klinkrad, Head of ESA’s Space Debris Office at ESOC, which is closely monitoring the GOCE re-entry.

Space observation radar TIRA (Tracking and Imaging Radar) Credit: Fraunhofer FHR

Space observation radar TIRA (Tracking and Imaging Radar) Credit: Fraunhofer FHR

With recent orbit data from this morning, based on TIRA radar measurements and GOCE satellite-to-satellite tracking, augmented with orbit data from international partners of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), the re-entry of the satellite can be predicted with an accuracy of about plus or minus 2 orbits.

The re-entry is expected to occur between 18:30 UTC – 24:00 UTC, Sunday, 10 November (19:30 CET – 01:00 CET, Sunday to Monday, 10/11 November); the most probable impact ground swath largely runs over ocean and polar regions.

With a very high probability, a re-entry over Europe can be excluded.



  • Bruce Thomas says:

    Hi there.

    Will it be possible to see any re-entry from the UK? I understand the craft won’t actually re-enter over Europe although to see something would be fantastic.

    Kind regards
    Bruce Thomas

  • MapleWalnut says:

    GOCE takes about 90 minutes to complete one orbit, so the re-entry estimate covers almost 4 orbits when it could come down. GOCE is in a polar orbit, so its orbits eventually take it over Earth’s entire surface. But the 4 possible last orbits don’t happen to be over Europe (see article). 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, so most of the debris that makes it to the surface will likely land in the ocean.

    For those in the U.S. here are the times for the predicted re-entry window:
    Eastern Time, Sun 1:30 pm – 7:00 pm
    Central Time, Sun 12:30 pm – 6:00 pm
    Pacific Time, Sun 10:30 am – 4:00 pm

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