Friday, September 12, 2008

New Satellite to Predict Future Climate Change

From The Daily Galaxy*:
A torpedo-shaped satellite - known as the gravity field and steady-state ocean circulation explorer, will help predict how the world is going to change." Scientists are preparing to launch a new satellite to make more precise measurements of the Earth's gravitational field and so help improve predictions about global warming with a more precise picture of the ocean currents....

...GOCE is equipped with a triple-accelerometer gradiometer, accurate to within one part in one hundred trillion of standard Earth gravity. Don't pretend you understand that - a one hundred trillionth is beyond the human minds ability to usefully picture. For reference, it's the size of a virus compared to a sixteen wheeler truck.

The GOCE is the first in a series of Earth Exploring satellites - it's companions will be CRYOSAT, SMOS, AEOLUS and the excellently-named SWARM. Five satellites in orbit with names like that - the ESA have not confirmed that the quintuplet will merge to form a giant alien-battling robot in times of distress, but only because it's so obvious it doesn't need to be said....MORE
*Their tagline "News from Planet Earth and Beyond" somehow seems modest compared to the footer on NOAA press releases:
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.