On Monday 17 March the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully launched from Plesetsk (Russia) the GOCE mission (“Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer”)
The European Space Agency mission will enable the earth’s gravitational field to be observed and measured with great precision, helping us to understand climate change
GOCE is the first in a series of earth observation satellites called Earth Explorers, designed by ESA to address a series of enigmas that have been puzzling the scientific community in the earth sciences field, seeking better knowledge of the earth’s main components such as its interior, the atmosphere, the biosphere, the hydrosphere and the cryosphere. GOCE will without doubt meet these requisites. Its elegant hi-tech design has adopted many trailblazing technologies for mapping the earth’s gravity fields as never before.
As main contractor, Thales Alenia Space has led an exclusively European 40-company consortium to prepare the mission and construct the GOCE satellite. In Spain GMV originally took charge of the mission analysis. Subsequently, in a project for ESA’s Space Operations Center in Germany (ESOC), GMV led the design, development and maintenance of the ground system of satellite monitoring and control. This system is responsible for generating the control orders and receiving the satellite-sent telemetry for checking the functioning of the onboard equipment. To ensure smooth operation of the developed system, a 4-person team from GMV is going to give direct support in ESA’s operations center during the initial launch phases. Likewise, GMV engineers have participated in the development and operation of the orbit control system that ensures correct GOCE orbit at each moment.
The GOCE mission, which will map the gravity field with unprecedented precision, will input a great variety of new and fascinating possibilities for the fields of oceanography, solid earth physics, geodesy and sea-level studies. This will greatly help us to understand climate change.