GOCE’s altitude of the orbit is steadily decreasing. The most current predictions suggest the satellite’s reentry in about 10 days.
As of the 31st of October, the orbit of GOCE (Gravity Ocean Circulation Explorer) has experienced a visible decrease – from an initial 230×220 km to 207×202 km. The rate of orbital decay has also slightly increased over the last few days, probably due to the higher density of the surrounding atmosphere. It is not known yet if the recent higher solar activity has had a measurable effect on the decay rate.
The initial orbit of GOCE was around 280 km, which was later gradually lowered. The final working orbit of 230×220 km was maintained until the 21st of October. On this day the GOCE ion engine run out of fuel. Since that time the satellite is sinking in the atmosphere and will end in a destructive reentry.
The most current forecast suggests that GOCE will be destroyed on the 10th of November. This is still a preliminary date and it is very probable that it will change.
(ESA, PFA, SO)