Riding the Waves

Streamlined Satellite Takes on Gravity

For the next two years the super-streamlined ESA-satellite GOCE will make a map of Earth’s gravity – unprecedented in its detail and accuracy. Scientists hope the map will help answer crucial questions about rising sea levels, earthquakes, volcanoes and ocean currents. The map also opens the way for a universal height system.

Text Sander Koenen


A huge mirror of 3.5 meters of diameter, the biggest ever launched in space, combined with a massive helium tank, the cryostat, which contains instruments super cooled down at almost absolute Zero temperature, will detect far infrared light from very distant galaxies allowing astronomers to see, for the first time, dusty and cold regions that have been hidden so far.

The European Space Agency Herschel satellite will try to unveil the origins of stars and galaxies. It will be launched by Ariane 5 from French Guyane on April 16, 2009.

Text Angelica Bevilacqua