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Science & Exploration

N° 41–2014: Call for Media: ESA's GOCE mission continues serving Earth science

20 November 2014

Media are invited to a press briefing on the scientific results that continue to come from ESA’s gravity mission.

At the opening of the 5th International GOCE User Workshop on 25 November at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, experts will discuss the mission’s contribution to our knowledge of ocean circulation, solid earth physics, upper atmosphere and geodesy.

Estimates of and variations in Antarctic land ice mass measured by GOCE will also be presented – something that was never planned or even deemed possible with this diverse mission.

Particular focus will be given to the improved measurements obtained during the satellite’s ‘second mission’ when its super-low orbit was lowered even further during its final year of life.

The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer , or GOCE, was ESA’s first Earth Explorer satellite in orbit. The mission mapped variations in Earth’s gravity with unrivalled precision, resulting in the most accurate shape of the ‘geoid’ – a hypothetical global ocean at rest – ever produced.

On 21 October 2013, the mission came to a natural end when it ran out of fuel. Three weeks later, on 11 November, the satellite disintegrated in the lower atmosphere.

Although its flight is over, the wealth of data from GOCE continues to be exploited to improve our understanding of ocean circulation, sea level, ice dynamics and Earth’s interior.

The 25 November event will highlight GOCE’s most recent scientific results. It will also provide media representatives with the opportunity to speak to representatives from ESA and France’s CNES space agency, as well as to key scientists.

Press interested in attending the event are requested to register by 24 November via email to

For more information on ESA’s GOCE mission, visit

For more information on the5th International GOCE User Workshop, visit

Opening session and press event programme:

09:00   Registration open

10:30  Welcome address by Wendy Watson-Wright, Assistant Director General and Executive Secretary of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

10:35   ESA representative provides overview of ESA’s Earth observation activities and the GOCE mission

10:50  ESA’s Jerome Benveniste outlines the workshop objectives

10:55  ESA’s Rune Floberghagen discusses the GOCE mission’s flight operations and main contributions to scientific research

11:15  Address on oceanography with GOCE by Maire-Helene Rio from the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the Italian National Research Council 

11:35  Imaging Earth’s interior with GOCE explained by Isabelle Panet from France’s Institut Géographique National

11:55   Rene Forsberg from the Danish National Space Institute discusses the geodesy of Antarctica with GOCE

12:15  Address on GOCE’s contribution to upper atmospheric research by Eelco Doornbos from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands

12:35  Rory Bingham from the University of Bristol looks ahead to the next phase of GOCE oceanographic research

13:00  Press event with Maire-Helene Rio, Isabelle Panet, Rune Floberghagen and additional representatives from ESA and CNES, followed by a question and answer session

14:00  Light lunch and refreshments

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe's gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxem-bourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, are likely soon to become new ESA Member States.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with six other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, naviga-tion, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more about ESA at

For further information:

ESA Media Relations

Email: media@esa,int

Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99