3D Earth in the making
Thanks to gravity and magnetic data from satellites along with seismology, scientists are on the way to modelling inner Earth in 3D.

blue arrow Mission Overview


ESA's Gravity field and Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) orbited as close to Earth as possible - just 260 km up - to maximise its sensitivity to variations in Earth's gravity field with unprecedented accuracy and spatial resolution. GOCE's state-of-the-art gradiometer mapped Earth's geoid very accurately, opening a window into Earth's interior structure as well as the currents circulating within the depths of its oceans.

The final gravity map and model of the geoid, provided users worldwide with well-defined data products that are instrumental in advancing science and applications in a broad range of disciplines. Although its flight is over, the wealth of data from GOCE continues to be exploited to improve our understanding of geodesy, geophysics, surveying, ocean circulation, oceanography, sea level, ice dynamics and Earth’s interior.

GOCE was launched on 17 March 2009 and came to an end on 21 October 2013 when it ran out of fuel and re-entered the atmosphere on 11 November.

blue arrow Mission Objectives


The GOCE mission objectives were based on the unique capability of a gravity gradiometer to provide an accurate and detailed global model of Earth's gravity field and geoid. This model served the following multi-disciplinary scientific objectives:

  • Providing a new understanding of the physics of Earth´s interior including geodynamics associated with the lithosphere, mantle composition and rheology, uplifting and subduction processes
  • Providing a precise estimate of the marine geoid, needed for the quantitative determination, in combination with satellite altimetry, of absolute ocean currents and their transport of heat and other properties
  • Providing a better global height reference system for datum connection, which can serve as a reference surface for the study of topographic processes, such as the evolution of ice-sheets and land surface
  • Providing estimates of the thickness of the polar ice sheets through the combination of bedrock topography derived from gradiometry and ice-sheet surface topography from altimetry

Advances in each of these areas of research benefitted developments in others, including the study of global sea-level change.

blue arrow Instruments

The Electrostatic Gravity Gradiometer (EGG) measured gravity gradients in all directions with a set of six 3-axis accelerometers. It was specifically designed for the stationary gravity field – measuring the geoid and gravity anomalies with high accuracy and high spatial resolution.
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The Satellite to Satellite Tracking Instrument (SSTI) supplemented the gradiometer measurements and acquired signals from up to 12 satellites in the GPS constellation, to deliver measurements on both GPS frequencies as well as realtime orbit navigation solutions.
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Non-scientific instrument payload

GOCE also had a Laser Retroreflector (LRR) to allow its precise orbit to be tracked by a global network of ground stations through the Satellite Laser Ranging Service. This provided accurate positioning for orbit determination and data products.

blue arrow Data

blue arrow DATA DOWNLOAD

Download data from the GOCE mission through the ESA GOCE Online Dissemination Service. The data is freely available to registered users.


All GOCE Level 1b and Level 2 products, in accordance with ESA Earth Observation Data Policy, are freely available to users.

See the GOCE product descriptions to learn more about what the products offer:


blue arrow DATA TOOLS

A number of tools are available for visualising, processing and analysing GOCE data.

GOCE Level-1b and Level-2 XML Parser

The L1b-L2XML parser is capable of importing data into existing applications, by transforming GOCE products from ESA's Earth Explorers file format standards into other common formats.

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GOCEPARSER is an easy-to-use tool for extracting the GOCE Level-1b and Level-2 data from the XML products into a plain text file in columnar format.

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The GOCEXML2ASCII parser is a very fast and memory-efficient XML to ASCII converter for GOCE Level-2 EGG_NOM and SST_PSO data.

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GOCE Level-1b Matlab Readers

Use this starting package to learn how to build simple Matlab routines which can read Level-1b GOCE products.


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blue arrow DATA QUALITY

Quality Control is monitoring routinely the status of the spacecraft (payload and platform) and to check if the derived products meet the quality requirements along mission life-time.

Quality Control Reports for EGG

Quality Control Reports for SSTI

blue arrow Special datasets

The following GOCE special datasets are available:

  • GOCE+ Thermospheric data: Thermospheric density and crosswind data products derived from GOCE data
  • GOCE+ Gravity Gradients and GRIDS: Output from the ESA-funded GOCE+ GeoExplore project, which used other satellite gravity information in combination with GOCE data
  • GOCE Re-entry dataset: A special dataset, covering the 20 days of the GOCE re-entry phase in 2013, from 20 October to the end of mission on 11 November
  • SSTI ANTEX data: Antenna Phase Centre variations (PCVs) are available for both Main (SSTI-A) and Redundant (SSTI-B) antennas