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Satellite to map gravity

Paris, France, July 27, 2007: Scheduled to launch in the spring of 2008, the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) is dedicated to measuring the Earth’s gravity field and modelling the geoid with extremely high accuracy and spatial resolution. It is the first Earth Explorer Core mission to be developed as part of ESA’s Living Planet Programme.

The geoid, which is defined by the Earth’s gravity field, is a surface of equal gravitational potential. It follows a hypothetical ocean surface at rest (in the absence of tides and currents). A precise model of the Earth’s geoid is crucial for deriving accurate measurements of ocean circulation, sea-level change and terrestrial ice dynamics – all of which are affected by climate change. The geoid is also used as a reference surface from which to map all topographical features on the planet. An improved knowledge of gravity anomalies will contribute to a better understanding of the Earth’s interior, such as the physics and dynamics associated with volcanism and earthquakes and also further our knowledge of land uplift due to post-glacial rebound.