Originally due to complete its mission of mapping Earth's gravity in April 2011, approval has been given to extend the life of the GOCE mission to the end of 2012. This extension will improve the already excellent datasets the mission is delivering to its growing user community.
In orbit since March 2009, the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Explorer (GOCE) is measuring Earth's gravity field with unprecedented detail to advance our understanding of ocean circulation, sea-level change and Earth-interior processes. Originally, the satellite was planned to orbit Earth for 20 months, but the extension will allow the mission to continue until December 2012.
Data from GOCE have, so far, demonstrated a step change in the way we see the gravity field and how it is used within the geosciences. In recognition of the continuing good health, technical excellence and benefits the GOCE mission brings to science, ESA's Earth Observation Programme Board granted the extension yesterday.