GOCE in orbit
GOCE in orbit

GOCE mission overview

GOCE is dedicated to measuring Earth's gravity field and modelling the geoid with unprecedented accuracy and spatial resolution. Data from this advanced gravity mission will improve our knowledge of ocean circulation, which plays a crucial role in energy exchanges around the globe, sea-level change and Earth-interior processes. GOCE will also help to make significant advances in geodesy and surveying.

Mission details
Launched: 17 March 2009
Duration: After 4 years and 8 months orbiting Earth, the mission came to an end on 11 November 2013 - far exceeding its 20-month design life.

Mission objectives
– to determine gravity-field anomalies with an accuracy of 1 mGal (where 1mGal = 10–5 ms–2).
– to determine the geoid with an accuracy of 1-2 cm.
– to achieve the above at a spatial resolution better than 100 km.

Mission orbit
Orbit: Sun-synchronous, near-circular, dusk-dawn, low-Earth.
Inclination: 96.7°
Measurement altitude: about 250 km
Hibernation altitude: above 270 km

GOCE was a slim, octagonal satellite approximately 5 m long and 1 m in diameter. It had a rigid structure weighing about 1050 kg.

– gradiometer; 3 pairs of 3-axis, servo-controlled, capacitive accelerometers (each pair separated by a distance of about 0.5 m).
– 12-channel dual-frequency GPS receiver with geodetic quality.
– laser retroreflector enabled tracking by ground-based lasers.

Rockot (converted SS-19), from Plesetsk, Russia.

Flight operations
Monitored and controlled by ESA-ESOC via the Kiruna ground station in Sweden and secondary ground station in Svalbard, Norway.

Data processing
Level 1b products generated by the Payload Data Ground Segment (PDGS) at ESA-ESRIN.
Level 2 products (including gravity-field models and precise GOCE orbits) generated by the High-level Processing Facility (HPF) – a European consortium of ten scientific institutes.

Industrial Core Team
Thales Alenia Space (Italy) – satellite prime contractor
EADS Astrium GmbH (Germany) – platform contractor
Thales Alenia Space (France) – gradiometer
ONERA (France) accelerometer & system support

The Core Team led a consortium of 41 companies distributed over 13 European countries.

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