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ESA's Earth Explorer gravity mission: GOCE

Mark R. Drinkwater(1) and Roger Haagmans(1)

(1) European Space Agency, Keplerlaan 1, 2201AZ Noordwijk ZH, Netherlands


ESA's first Core Earth Explorer mission within the Living Planet Programme is the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE). GOCE will play an important role in this ‘geopotential decade’ by acquiring a high quality, high spatial resolution gravity field and geoid for future scientific applications. GOCE combines an innovative new three-axis gravity gradiometer (EGG) instrument (comprising three x, y, z pairs of accelerometers with a baseline separation of 0.5 m) with a drag-compensating ion-propulsion system to measure for the first time the full gravity gradient tensor along its orbit at 250 km altitude. GOCE will carry a GPS satellite-to-satellite tracking navigation system for 3-dimensional positioning, star trackers for precise pointing knowledge, and a laser retroreflector for ground laser tracking. GOCE is specifically designed to make accurate and precise measurements of the stationary gravity field and gravity anomalies (to 1 mGal) at high spatial resolution (100 km). The data will facilitate the computation of a high spatial resolution (100 km) global geoid model to 1-2 cm accuracy. Applications of these products will be illustrated using examples of applications in oceanography, solid-earth physics and geodesy. After a successful completion of the design consolidation phase, the construction phase for the GOCE satellite is presently underway, with an anticipated a launch in late 2006.


Workshop poster


                 Last modified: 07.10.03