Satellite GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, «Researcher gravitational field and the constant ocean currents") finished collecting the data needed to refine the shape of the Earth, reports Lenta.ru with reference to the press release of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The device accurately measured the planet's gravitational field with three pairs of accelerometers that determine the projection of the gravitational acceleration in three axes.
The resulting information will allow more precise model of the Earth, which is the geoid, geometric body, reflecting the distribution of the potential gravity of our planet.
Knowing the exact shape you need, for example, to predict the changes in the level of the oceans due to the melting of ice, to map ocean currents, and other national economic goals.
An international consortium (41 companies from 13 European countries), the device was launched on March 17, 2009 the Russian carrier rocket "rumble" from the Plesetsk cosmodrome.
Since the target orbit had a relatively low altitude, 260 km, which is large enough resistance to the upper atmosphere, the satellite gave aerodynamic shape. To compensate for the friction of the atmosphere of this machine uses an ion engine that uses as a working gas xenon.
To the surprise of mission control center in November 2010, found that the fuel consumption was even lower than originally estimated developers, ESA has decided to extend the mission GOCE to the end of 2012.