GOCE is a sleek five metre-long satellite about one metre in diameter. It consists of a central octagonal tube with seven internal 'floors' that support the equipment and electronic units. The satellite is built largely of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic sandwich panels to guarantee stable conditions and minimise mass. Forming the heart of the satellite, the gradiometer is mounted close to the satellite’s centre of mass. The gradiometer structure is based on ultra-stable carbon-carbon technology. GOCE is the first mission to employ the concept of gradiometry in space.