ESA’s GOCE satellite has produced a magnificent portrait of Earth’s gravitational fields. GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) is part of Europe’s ambitious earth observation program, with 20 satellites due to be launched over the coming decade.

"The computed global gravity field looks very promising. We can already see that important new information will be obtained for large areas of South America, Africa, Himalaya, South-East Asia and Antarctica," explained Prof. Reiner Rummel, Chairman of the GOCE Mission Advisory Group.

The gravity contours, produced from the first two months of operational GOCE data, are represented by height level differences, and is 80m (262ft) above nominal around Iceland, and 100m (328ft) below in the Indian Ocean. ESA hopes to continue flying GOCE until 2014 at the lowest altitude a satellite has ever flown, a mere 254.9km (158.4 miles) mean altitude above the Earth’s surface.

The measurements show that gravity changes between 9.78m/s (32.09ft/s) at the equator, to 9.83m/s (32.25ft/s) at the pole, with lots of undulations in between. These variations are due to different densities within the Earth’s core, mountains, deep ocean trenches, and ice coverage. GOCE measures gravity so sensitively that it can detect magma flowing below a volcano and large changes in ice melting.

Another benefit of the GOCE gravity information is to assist climate modeling. Since gravity influences ocean currents, and these currents are intimately related to worldwide wind and heat movement, knowing the gravity effects will lead to improved climate accuracy.

Check out the ESA world gravity map online.

Visit: ESA GOCE Mission

Via:www.greenmuze. соm

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