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European space mission 'to unearth' Earth's secrets

world Updated: Mar 22, 2009 15:32 IST

Planetary scientists have claimed that the European spaceship, launched last week, would unearth the Earth's secrets soon, from the movements of ocean currents to the location of oil deposits.

In fact, according to them, the spaceship's satellite would track the variations in Earth's gravity and reveal data, which will enable in the detection of the flows of molten rock that underlie movements of tectonic plates and cause quakes.

"Goce will yield details of the Earth's gravity field to an accuracy and resolution that is simply unobtainable by existing terrestrial and space techniques," Prof Philip Moore of Newcastle University told 'The Sunday Times'.

The project, named Goce, will also show how gravity diverges from the average in different parts of the world - this will provide a benchmark against which changes in ocean currents, the melting of ice-caps, or volcanic processes can be clearly shown, the scientists said.

Mark Drinkwater, Goce mission scientist at European Space Agency (ESA), said it was necessary to measure changes in ocean circulation to understand climate change.

"Currents carry large quantities of heat from the Equator to the Poles. The system in the north Atlantic, for example, helps to keep Europe's climate relatively mild," he was quoted as saying.

Added Goce mission manager Rune Floberghagen: "Imagine a snowflake, which weighs a fraction of a gram, falling onto deck of a supertanker. The impact the supertanker experiences from that snowflake is comparable to the sensitivity of our instrument."