Construction of ESA’s Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer satellite (GOCE) begins
An important milestone has recently been reached for ESA’s first Earth Explorer Core Mission GOCE. Following the successful completion of the Preliminary Design Review the project now has approval to move from the ‘drawing board’ and into the construction phase.
The Preliminary Design Review for the GOCE Space Segment marked the end of the design definition phase (Phase B). It is part of the approval procedure for the satellite system design and confirms that all mission requirements are met on the basis of the design trade-offs and analyses carried out during the design definition phase. On April 9 the main findings of the review were presented to the GOCE Preliminary Design Review Board, chaired by José Achache, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes and René Bonnefoy, ESA’s Inspector General. The Board concluded that the GOCE space segment design is sound, that no technical ‘show stoppers’ were present and that the construction process of the GOCE satellite can now begin. The construction phase (Phase C/D) commences with the building of structural and functional models over the next 18 months and will lead to the eventual manufacture of the satellite.
The main aim of the GOCE mission is to provide unique models of the Earth’s gravity field and its geoid (reference equipotential surface) to high spatial resolution and accuracy. GOCE will also advance research in the field of steady-state ocean circulation, physics of the Earth’s interior and levelling systems. In accordance with ESA’s release of the construction phase (Phase C/D) in May, implementation work has now begun. The eventual launch of the satellite is expected to be at the beginning of 2006.