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Satellite Creates First Global Gravity Map of Earth

• Rebecca Boyle via PopSci

Using only two months of data, the GOCE gravity-tracking satellite has built the first-ever full map of Earth's gravitational field.

The map, called a geoid, reflects the bumps and valleys of Earth's gravitational effects. The map shows what the Earth would look like if it was covered in an ocean dictated by gravity, as the European Space Agency explains. It's not as smooth as you might think -- gravity is slightly different in different parts of the globe.

The GOCE satellite, which stands for Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, makes super-precise measurements of the gravitational field. It flies in a dangerously low polar orbit, coming close to falling out of the sky, BBC reports.

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