GOCE Satellite

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Goce activated its thruster yesterday and they are doing the initial warm-up of the gradiometer.


From the article:

European Space Agency (Esa) mission manager Rune Floberghagen said all systems on the spacecraft had now been activated following the launch from Russia last month.

"The big news today is that the gradiometer is fully working; all its accelerometers have survived the launch and they are producing meaningful data," he told BBC News.

"Now we must learn to drive our super-satellite."

To acquire its data, Goce carries a set of six state-of-the-art high-sensitivity accelerometers. These have been arranged in pairs and sit across the three axes of the spacecraft.

As Goce "bumps" through Earth's gravity field, the accelerometers will sense fantastically small disturbances - as small as one part in 10,000,000,000,000 of the gravity experienced at the Earth's surface.

This exquisite measurement capability meant some very fragile mechanisms had to be built into the gradiometer, and developing these delicate technologies so they could also survive the intense shaking experienced at launch proved to be one of the major design challenges of the mission.

The satellite's thruster is also very cutting edge, and it provides a unique balance to the spacecraft in terms of its measurement capability as well as its low orbital path. The propulsion aspects of this mission are almost as interesting as the data acquisition side!



With the expected sensitivity of its gradiometer, GOCE should be a major achievement.
Let's hope everything be OK!
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