Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Gravity satellite senses unknown energies

This press release doesn't quite capture the importance of the new gravity-sensing satellite which has launched this week. 

GOCE will feel the subtle variations in Earth's tug as it sweeps around the globe.

GOCE’s highly sensitive gradiometer instrument has been switched on and is producing data. The gradiometer is specifically designed to measure Earth’s gravity field with unprecedented accuracy.

One of several satellites which launch this year focused on gravity, GOCE will help scientists construct high-resolution maps of the geoid - an idealised globe with a surface of constant gravity. Geoid information has many applications but perhaps the biggest knowledge gains will come in the study of ocean behaviour. Understanding better how gravity pulls water - and therefore heat - around the globe will improve computer models that try to forecast climate change.


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