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The use of satellite data in the detailed study and precise measurement of the Earth's geoid in order to improve our understanding both of the Earth's interior, and dynamic topography of the world's oceans.

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Gravity lowdown

10 September 2013

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With a catalogue of triumphs that range from delivering novel information about winds at the edge of the atmosphere to mapping the structure of Earth's crust 200 km below our feet, ESA's GOCE satellite is in the limelight at this week's Living Planet Symposium.

Carrying the first 3D gravity gradiometer in space and orbiting lower than any other research mission, this state-of-the-art satellite has measured Earth's gravity with unprecedented accuracy, resulting in a series of four geoid models, each more accurate than the last.

And, a fifth is expected in the middle of next year that will include GOCE's last measurements.

These final data will be even more accurate because they are being taken from an orbit 31 km lower than the satellite's original mapping height - at the very limit of its capability but maximising its scientific return.

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