GOCE – ESA’s Gravity Explorer

GOCE in orbit
In orbit, the same side of the GOCE satellite remains facing the Sun. The spacecraft is equipped with four body-mounted and two wing-mounted solar panels. Due to the configuration in orbit, the solar panels will experience extreme temperature variations so it was necessary to use materials that will tolerate temperatures as high as 160ºC and as low as -170ºC.

The geoid
The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission is designed to measure high-accuracy gravity gradients and provide a global model of Earth's gravity field andgeoid.

The geoid (the surface of equal gravitational potential of a hypothetical ocean at rest) serves as the classical reference for all topographical features. The accuracy of its determination is important for surveying and geodesy, and in studies of Earth interior processes, ocean circulation, ice motion and sea-level change.