GOCE satellite views Earth’s gravity

The European Space Agency’s GOCE satellite (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) has just imaged the Earth’s gravity in HD. The colourful map, as can be seen above, traces the subtle but all pervasive influence the pull of gravity has across the globe and is referred to as a ‘geoid’ – a map which defines where the hypothetical level surface is on Earth. Scientists say the gathered data has numerous applications, specifically in climate studies as the geoid can help highlight how the massive mass of ocean water is moving heat around the planet.

Europe is currently at the forefront of space-based Earth Observation and is in the middle of a huge programme involving the launch of over 20 missions worth an estimated 8 billion euros.