First fruits of gravity probe


1 October 2009

The European Space Agency’s most sophisticated gravity satellite, the Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), has begun mapping Earth’s gravity in unprecedented detail.

This image is the first gravity gradient map from GOCE data that ESA has released.

Launched on 17 March, GOCE has been through three months of rigorous tests and is now ready to begin sending back useable data.

GOCE’s onboard gradiometer instrument will measure the gravitational tug of Earth. This information will be used to produce a three-dimensional model of Earth’s gravity field and so to understand the planet’s geoid – a theoretical shape which can be thought of as the surface of a global ocean at rest.

Accurate information about the geoid is essential for understanding ocean circulation and measuring sea-level change, both key players in climate.

It will also have practical applications in areas such as surveying.

(Image: ESA)

We highly recommend New Scientist  magazine . Click on the link for the complete article.

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