Update from GOCE Operations Manager Christoph Steiger at ESOC
Less than 10 hours before re-entry, we have just had another ground contact with GOCE at 15:37 CET using KSAT’s Svalbard station.
The spacecraft is now at an altitude of just 133km, with the decay rate around 1.5 km per hour (and increasing quickly). The average drag level is well over 200 mN (milliNewton).
The spacecraft is still doing great, with good attitude control. The Gradiometer has been switched off by us, as the accelerometers were saturated at these high drag levels. The scientific GPS receivers of GOCE keep working very well. Temperatures close to the front of the spacecraft keep increasing steadily: the central computer is now at around 40 degC, an increase by over 25 degC since 1.5 days ago. We have a few more ground contacts left this evening and will try to make the most out of them.