GOCE preparing for launch
Poised to open a new chapter in the pursuit of a better understanding of Earth's gravity field, ESA's GOCE mission will lead to a better understanding of the role that oceans play in climate as well as key issues such as sea-level rise.
From an exceptionally low orbital altitude, GOCE will measure global variations in the Earth's gravity field with extreme detail and accuracy. This will result in a unique model of the geoid, which is the surface of equal gravitational potential defined by the gravity field – crucial for deriving accurate measurements of ocean circulation and sea-level change, both of which are affected by climate change. GOCE-derived data is also much needed to understand more about processes occurring inside the Earth and for use in practical applications such as surveying and levelling.
GOCE is the first in the series of Earth Explorer missions being developed within ESA's Living Planet Programme. Earth Explorer missions form the science and research element of the Living Planet Programme and focus on the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and the Earth's interior, with the overall emphasis on learning more about the interactions between these components and the impact that human activity is having on natural Earth processes.
The satellite is currently undergoing final preparations at ESA-ESTEC in the Netherlands prior to launch this summer from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.