Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


ESA’s Earth Explorer gravity satellite on show

GOCE, ESA’s first satellite dedicated to measuring the Earth’s gravity field, has been presented to the press today in Turin, Italy, before being shipped to ESTEC – the space agency’s research and technology centre in the Netherlands – for final testing.

The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer(GOCE), the first core Earth Explorer mission to be developed as part of ESA's Living Planet Programme, will significantly advance our knowledge of how the Earth works and provide insight into ocean circulation, sea-level change, climate change, volcanism and earthquakes.

The spacecraft has been in Italy at Thales Alenia Space, the prime contractor for the development, integration and testing, for roughly nine months where the last subsystems and the payload were integrated on its platform.

Speaking at today’s media event, Carlo Alberto Penazzi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Thales Alenia Space in Italy, said: "We are especially proud to have played a major role in this ESA project, which represents a crucial step forward in increasing our knowledge of the structure of our planet and its well-being."

ESA GOCE Project Manager, Danilo Muzi highlighting the role of industry in this very challenging satellite’s development, said: "Forty-five companies distributed over 13 European countries have been working with ESA on the design of the satellite since 2001. The development of the GOCE satellite represents genuine European industrial cooperation."

"ESA's gravity satellite will measure Earth's gravity from place to place around the globe to provide a uniform global picture. It will do this with a level of detail and accuracy never before achieved," ESA GOCE Project Scientist, Mark Drinkwater, said. "This fundamental reference dataset will give access to new scientific insights into ocean circulation and its impact on climate, as well as into the structure of the interior of the Earth in critical locations such as earthquake and volcanic zones."

Because the gravitational signal is stronger closer to the Earth, GOCE has been designed to fly in a particularly low orbit - at an altitude of just 250 km. However, the remaining atmosphere at low altitudes creates a demanding environment for the satellite and presented a challenge for its design.

Unlike other missions where various independent instruments are carried aboard the spacecraft, GOCE is unique in that the instrumentation actually forms part of the structure of the satellite. A completely stable, rigid and unchanging local environment is required to acquire extremely high fidelity ‘true’ gravity readings, so the spacecraft intentionally has no mechanical moving parts.

The newly developed primary instrument - the gravity gradiometer - measures the terrestrial gravitational field thanks to a set of six ultra-sensitive capacitive sensors. In order to attain the required sensitivity, the gradiometer is combined with a precise GPS-based Satellite-to-Satellite Tracking Instrument to provide accurate three-dimensional positioning of the satellite along its orbit.

Once delivered to ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the spacecraft and gradiometer will undergo the final integration and environmental testing programme to make sure everything is in order to withstand the rigours of launch and the hostile conditions it will experience in space.

In spring 2008, GOCE will be launched on a Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in north-western Russia, under the responsibility of the German-Russian launch operator Eurockot.

Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>