GOCE user meeting in Munich on the 31st of March and 1st of April, to share the very good results of this gravimetry mission between scientists and to announce its success to the press.
After two years in orbit and gathering gravity data, which will have taken over 12 months, the GOCE mission is a remarkable scientific success. At the heart of this success is a measurement instrument that is a pioneer in space: a triaxial gradiometer designed to measure terrestrial gravity. This equipment is based on the ultra sensitive measurement capability of six accelerometers (or g-meters) designed and developed by ONERA.
The new Geoid according to GOCE. The colour palette shows the surface deviation from the ideal reference in magnified form and reflects fine variations in density, and thus in gravity, due to the internal structure of the Earth. © ESA.
[See the image at full resolution on the ESA site].
Due to their extreme accuracy, these accelerometers will provide a Geoid representation with unequalled spatial resolution for oceanographers, seismologists and geophysicists, allowing more accurate knowledge of ocean circulation dynamics, or a better understanding of the processes at work in terrestrial crust movements in relation to earthquakes, for example.
GOCE, whose "nominal mission" has been completed, has just benefited from a mission extension until December 2012, which will allow it to further improve the accuracy of terrestrial geoid measurement.
The success of GOCE confirms the world leadership of ONERA in ultra sensitive accelerometry, for which the main applications are terrestrial gravity measurement (GRACE mission - with NASA, GOCE mission – with ESA) and fundamental physics experiments in space - with the CNES Microscope mission, whose payload is currently in the final phase of qualification.