Posted on 11 November 2013 by Daniel
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.