Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The best satellite to model, evah

ESA's Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) appears to be a great subject for a flying model. The satellite has been described as "the Porche of orbital engineering", "the Formula 1 of spacecraft", and the coolest satellite ever. Yeah, those descriptions work for me.

Forget its looks, during its 20 month mission, it will:

  • determine gravity-field anomalies with an accuracy of
    1 mGal (where 1 mGal = 10–5 ms–2).
  • determine the geoid with an accuracy of 1-2 cm.
  • achieve the above at a spatial resolution better than
    100 km.
It was supposed to have launched but a last minute problem popped up. It is now scheduled to launch on October 5th from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.