GOCE in ESA's test facilities
Applications

Entry 1: GOCE prepares for shipment to Russia

577 views 0 likes
ESA / Applications / Observing the Earth / GOCE

24 July 2008 - Launching in just two months' time, GOCE – now fully reconfigured for launch in September, is currently being prepared for shipment on 29 July 2008 from ESA's test facilities in the Netherlands to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

Originally, the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission had been scheduled for launch in May 2008, but as a result of precautionary measures taken following a problem with an upper-stage section of a Russian Proton launcher, the launch date was postponed until 10 September 2008. Consequently, the satellite had to be reconfigured for a so-called 'summer launch configuration'.

Rockot fairing opens three minutes after launch
Rockot fairing opens three minutes after launch

Since the GOCE gravity mission is designed to fly at a particularly low altitude of just 263 km and at a slight inclination with respect to an exact polar orbit, the satellite goes into the shadow of the Earth during polar nights for 28 minutes 135 days each year.

By going into the Earth’s shadow where no sun hits the satellite, GOCE experiences changes in temperature that could potentially affect measurements. Not knowing exactly when GOCE would launch, the option to choose whether it went into Earth’s shadow, referred to as an ‘eclipse period’, between October and February or between April and August was included in its design.

The choice between these two options is made by either launching into a northward equator crossing at 06:00 or at 18:00. The main difference between the launch times – as seen from the Sun – is that it determines whether the satellite flies clockwise or anticlockwise around the Earth.

Since GOCE will launch in September, the preferred eclipse period is April to August because it allows unaffected commissioning and science operations until April next year.

Sunny side of GOCE
Sunny side of GOCE

Over the last two months the satellite has been successfully reconfigured and fully tested and is now in the process of being prepared for its journey from ESA-ESTEC to the launch site in Russia.

On the morning of 29 July a container holding the GOCE satellite, along with six other containers carrying a whole host of support equipment, will be loaded onto trucks and taken to Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Once aboard an Antonov cargo aircraft, the shipment will be flown to Arkhangelsk, Russia, where the container will be transferred to a train for the rest of the journey to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Additional support equipment is being transported by ship to the launch site on 21 July from Antwerp, Belgium.

After the satellite is unpacked, a final check will be carried out before being mounted onto its Rockot launch vehicle 13 days prior to launch.

Earth's geoid as seen by GOCE
Earth's geoid as seen by GOCE

Once launched and commissioned, GOCE will map global variations in the gravity field with extreme detail and accuracy. This will result in a unique model of the geoid, which is the surface of equal gravitational potential defined by the gravity field – crucial for deriving accurate measurements of ocean circulation and sea-level change, both of which are affected by climate change.

GOCE-derived data is also much needed to understand more about processes occurring inside the Earth and for use in practical applications such as surveying and levelling.

Related Links

GOCE in ESA's test facilities
Applications

Entry 1: GOCE prepares for shipment to Russia

577 views 0 likes
Open item
Sunny side of GOCE
Applications

Entry 2: GOCE begins its journey to launch site

958 views 0 likes
Open item
Safe arrival for GOCE at Arkhangelsk
Applications

Entry 3: GOCE arrives safely at launch site in Russia

684 views 0 likes
Open item
GOCE positioned for alignment check
Applications

Entry 4: GOCE unpacked and alignment check complete

406 views 0 likes
Open item
Into container to check for gas leaks
Applications

Entry 5: GOCE checked for gas leaks

486 views 0 likes
Open item
Manoeuvring GOCE in the cleanroom
Applications

Entry 6: Launch team reaches full strength

323 views 0 likes
Open item
Roll out of Upper Composite
Applications

Entry 7: Gradiometer checked and launcher rolled out for te…

352 views 0 likes
Open item
GOCE joining Breeze
Applications

Entry 8: GOCE satellite joins Breeze

304 views 0 likes
Open item
Last look at GOCE
Applications

Entry 9: Last-ever look at GOCE

318 views 0 likes
Open item
GOCE on the launch pad
Applications

Entry 10: GOCE on the launch pad

358 views 0 likes
Open item
GOCE positioned for alignment check
Applications

Entry 11: Launch of GOCE delayed

325 views 0 likes
Open item
GOCE before joining the adaptor
Applications

Entry 12: Satellite activities resume 24 September

318 views 0 likes
Open item
Fairing with logos
Applications

Entry 13: GOCE team gearing up for new launch date

255 views 0 likes
Open item
Manoeuvring GOCE in the cleanroom
Applications

Entry 14: GOCE launch postponed

245 views 0 likes
Open item
GOCE in Plesetsk
Applications

Entry 15: March launch planned for GOCE

191 views 0 likes
Open item
GOCE container
Applications

Entry 16: Team make ready to wake up GOCE

275 views 0 likes
Open item
Applications

Entry 17: GOCE revealed as container opened

318 views 0 likes
Open item
Activating the ion propulsion valves
Applications

Entry 18: A busy week

441 views 0 likes
Open item
GOCE mated to the Breeze Upper Stage
Applications

Entry 19: GOCE meets launcher Upper Stage

297 views 0 likes
Open item
Last inspection before fairing closes
Applications

Entry 20: Encapsulation

248 views 0 likes
Open item
Transfer of GOCE to launch tower
Applications

Entry 21: On the launch pad

507 views 0 likes
Open item
ESA and industrial team members during GOCE countdown rehearsal, Plesetsk, 13 March 2009
Applications

Entry 22: Launch rehearsed

246 views 0 likes
Open item
GOCE liftoff
Applications

Entry 23: GOCE launched and in orbit

1040 views 2 likes
Open item
Cleanroom used for storage
Applications

Entry 24: Going home

572 views 1 likes
Open item
Plesetsk Cosmodrome
Agency

Plesetsk

3135 views 1 likes
Open item