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April 02, 2011

Visualizing the earth's gravity

Images of the earth's gravity from the GOCE satellite

Gravity isn't just a good idea, it's the law. But while gravity is a relentless force here on Earth, the strength of that force varies from place to place. There are a lot of reasons for that, but it's chiefly because 1) the earth isn't a perfect sphere and 2) even if it was, the mass within the earth isn't evenly distributed.

The European Space Agency's GOCE satellite has just produced the most precise data ever on how Earth's gravity varies, and they used the data to generate several cool visualizations. The images above are three snaps of a video of the rotating earth showing the gravitational variation...the high points in yellow correspond to spots where the gravity is stronger, the low blue spots (like the one in the middle of the Pacific ocean) are places where the gravity is a bit less.

You can watch the video on the GOCE site. There's also a good article about GOCE on the BBC website.

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Posted by Chris Spurgeon at April 2, 2011 09:28 AM