Spacecraft doing great: GOCE at 133 km

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.



  • jan says:

    Article written at … GMT?

  • Andy says:

    CET = GMT + 1:00 so 14:37 GMT for this one.

  • Alistair says:

    Hello Christoph,

    Does this mean that you will have no further contact with GOCE or are you still receiving altitude,attitude and speed data from its onboard GPS? I guess from now on it is just ground based radar that is monitoring GOCE? With that in mind, is the tracker on the website being updated with real live altitude and speed data every time GOCE crosses a radar station or is it just predicted? Thanks

    • Daniel says:

      Hi Alistair: Christoph’s a little too busy to reply just now; I can confirm that the tracker widget does NOT show real-time data, only the most recent TLE as determined by US Stratcom, so, only predicted info. Cheers! – Daniel

      • Alistair says:

        Thanks for the reply Daniel,

        Will US Stratcom get some more chances to update the data or are we effectively blind from now on after the last Svalbard pass? Thanks Alistair

        • Daniel says:

          We have no way to say how often US Stratcom updates their public TLE releases; in any event, you’re not ‘blind’ because our Spcraft Ops Manager C. Steiger is providing updates direct from the GOCE dedicated control room at ESOC to us here at the blog… 🙂

          • Alistair says:

            Thanks Daniel,

            Love the images on the website especially the geoid ones. Very interesting the work done by GOCE. Please keep updating us as to the last known position alt info from GOCE. Very interesting to see the decay in progress. It’s quite exciting to the prospect of a large fireball in the night (or day) sky even though it appears very unlikely anyone will actually see it. Cheers, Alistair

  • Valentin says:

    Thank you for keeping us in touch about the last minutes of GOCE.
    Have you some maps or more information about the geo localisation of the satellite in order to, may be, see it entering into the atmosphere please? 😉
    Thanks again,

    • Daniel says:

      Hi Clement: There is no way to predict in advance where to look to view re-entry or to provide a real-time map. Cheers!

  • Valentin says:

    Doh! 🙂 Thanks… but what does “no way” means? 🙂 I’m sorry for asking but I’ve read that in the next hour, some areas (of ground impact) will be excluded… so I assume that it exists an ellipse of uncertainties (even as large as a country) where the satellite is most probable to impact.
    And what about the radar stations in Europe for instance, is it possible that a station located in the North of Europe (Kiruna?) manages to identify the satellite at the next passage and provides its XY coordinates and alt.?
    Some other websites such as or try to provide the latest known and/or predicted location and orbit but we never see the uncertainties…
    Thanks again for your time,

  • Øyvind says:

    About 14.00 in the day i see something shining in sky south of Lillehammer was it the sattelite or maby just a airplane? I do not think it was a plane becorse it was almost staying still in the sky. It looks like it was refecting the sun.

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