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Space

ESA Launches GOCE To Map Earth's Gravity 81

DSG2 sends in an ESA press release which reads in part: "This afternoon, the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite developed by the European Space Agency was lofted into a near-Sun-synchronous, low Earth orbit by a Rockot launcher lifting off from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia. GOCE is the first of a new family of ESA satellites designed to study our planet and its environment in order to enhance our knowledge and understanding of Earth-system processes and their evolution, to enable us to address the challenges of global climate change. In particular, GOCE will measure the minute differences in the Earth's gravity field around the globe." One consequence of mapping the planet's geoid in finer detail is that ocean currents can be limned more accurately. This BBC article from 2007 goes into some detail about this application.

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