Mapping Gravitational Field

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Scientists are preparing to launch a new satellite to make precise measurements of the Earth's gravitational field. This torpedo-shaped satellite, they say, will improve predictions about global warming. The aim of the US $475 million project is to help scientists improve their predictions by enabling them to produce a precise picture of ocean currents-flows that transport vast amounts of heat around the planet and impact global climate.

They will do this by comparing the surface shape of the oceans with the undulations in the gravitational field. The satellite will complete a map of the gravitational field once every 70 days and operate for about 18 months. Geologists are expected to use the map for reference points to measure movements during earthquakes.


Down To Earth, October 2008