Update from ESA Space Debris Office at 23:10CET

This latest (and possibly final) forecast was just received from Prof Heiner Klinkrad, Head of the ESA Space Debris Office at ESOC.

On a short pass over the Troll ground station that ended at 21:18 CET (20:18 UTC), while GOCE flew at an altitude of only 122 km, the satellite was still showing an amazing system performance, and dumped highly valuable data to the ground station.

Using these data, that included very accurate navigation fixes along its trajectory, an orbit could be fitted that was used to forecast the re-entry of the spacecraft.

Current estimates lead to a re-entry time window between 22:50 UTC on 10 November and 00:50 UTC on 11 November (23:50-01:50 CET).

The most probable re-entry area lies on a descending orbit pass that mainly runs across the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. ESA will make another attempt to contact GOCE during a Troll station pass, to acquire more science and spacecraft data from an extremely low orbit altitude, and to further reduce the uncertainty in the re-entry forecast.



  • MapleWalnut says:

    The final orbit passes over the following countries. If it’s dark and the weather is clear, go outside and try to spot it! All times are in UTC.

    Brazil 22:57, Nova Scotia 23:14, Newfoundland/Labrador 23:16, Siberia 23:31, eastern China 23:35, North Korea 23:37, Taiwan 23:41, Philippines 23:43, Bali 23:49, Argentina 00:20, Chile 00:24, Peru 00:26, Columbia 00:30, Cuba 00:35, South Carolina 00:38, North Carolina 00:39, Virginia and West Virginia and Ohio 00:40,Ontario 00:42

  • Jan Olav Roine says:

    Little surprised that the air traffic in Australia was not affected in any way. The area was paced whit air planes while a orbit in this condition passed. Hope there will be some restrictions when the orbit get close to used air-routes again. Parts of the route is passing well known and heavy trafficed plane routes.

  • Rich Dailey says:

    I’m sure orbital dynamics people are salivating for one more pass with good data.

  • Corsac says:

    Jan, the last pass was at 122km altitude. Long haul airliner usually cruise at ~30/40 000 ft which is around 10km. By the time GOCE is at this altitude, there won’t be anything left of it, imho.

    • Jan Olav Roine says:

      Corsac, i just hope you are right, but i am sure happy i am not inside any plane around the end of the route 🙂

    • Denis says:

      Actually, they expect that the spacecraft will not entirely burn during re-entry, some parts up to 80kg in mass will survive and make it to the ground… so they could it airplanes!

  • daniela says:

    I believe, correct me if I am wrong, spacecraft will be invisible because in shadow, except perhaps in Siberia if still airborne, and except for the fireball at reentry.
    Wonderful news about successful contact!

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