Artist's view of the satellite GOCE. The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission is the first in the European Space Agency’s Earth Explorer Core Missions within the framework of the Living Planet (Earth observation envelope) programme. It is designed to complement the existing CHAMP and GRACE missions. GOCE’s mission objective is to provide models of the Earth’s gravity field and of its equipotential reference surface on a global scale with high spatial resolution and very high accuracy. The GOCE spacecraft was launched on a Rockot launch vehicle on 17 March 2009 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. EADS Astrium was a member of the core team of partners for the project selected by ESA under the prime contractorship of Alenia Spazio, and was responsible for the development of the platform. Its structure is made in carbon fiber composite due to the stringent requirements for dimensional stability and rigidity, in an operational temperature environment of -170ºC /+160ºC.
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