The GOCE project has funding until 2012, but it was feared the satellite’s mission may not even last until then. Because of its very low altitude of approximately 255km, lower than any other satellite in orbit, GOCE is propelled forward by an engine so it can move through the remnants of atmosphere still present at this altitude. However the ESA now believe the satellite has enough propellant to keep it in orbit until 2014.
The images provide groundbreaking insight into the processes at work above and below the surface of the Earth thanks to its own gravitational pull. The GOCE is already proving its worth and Rune Floberghagen, ESA’s GOCE Mission Manager, was happy to announce that additional data is expected over the next few months that can add to the accuracy of the geoid. It could turn out to be the most useful potato the world has ever known.