Gravitational force in the Himalayas being determined

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Washington, May 8 (ANI): ESA's GOCE satellite is determining the gravitational force in the Himalayas.

The satellite's, which has been orbiting the Earth for more than a year and surveying its gravitational field more accurately than any instrument previously, main goal is to determine the gravitational force in precise detail even in pathless places like the Himalayas.

The study is being conducted by scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM).

Evaluations of the first data from the satellite indicate that current models of the gravitational field in some regions can be fundamentally revised. On that basis, researchers expect to develop a better understanding of many geophysical processes, including for example earthquakes and ocean circulation. Another success: The satellite will probably manage to work in space for a much longer period than intended.

Gravitation is one of the fundamental forces of nature, but it is by no means the same everywhere. Earth's rotation, height differences of the surface, and the composition of the crust cause significant differences in the global gravitational field.

Measuring the field with previously unattainable precision - thereby contributing to the understanding of its effects - is the task of GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer), which lifted into earth's orbit on March 17, 2009.

In addition, GOCE is expected to provide the basis for the most accurate calculation of the "geoid" possible. Geoid is the name given to the virtual sea level of a global ocean at rest, which is used, for example, as a height reference for construction projects. (ANI)

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