EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / GOCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / GOCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Earth's gravitational field. Image taken by the ESA's (European Space Agency) GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) 'Earth Explorer' mission, showing the varying strength of the Earth's gravitational field across its surface. The GOCE satellite has gathered enough data to map Earth's gravity with unrivalled precision, leading to the most accurate model of the 'geoid' ever produced (as of 2011). The geoid is the surface of an ideal global ocean in the absence of tides and currents, shaped only by gravity.
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