The images, better known as geoid maps, are compiled from data collected by the European Space Agency sponsored Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer – GOCE for short, which was launched in 2009. This satellite flies at an unusually low altitude of just 254km, in a pole to pole orbit, and can measure even the tiniest changes in gravity.
The images show a map of the changes in gravitational pull over the Earth’s surface from the top of mountain ranges down to the depths of the ocean floor. The bright yellow areas show where gravity is at its strongest and range down to the blue areas where it is at its weakest.
Scientists involved in the project say that although the movements of tectonic plates can not be observed from Space, the patterns of gravity data may assist in understanding the processes involved in natural disasters such as this year’s Japan earthquake, and ultimately enable a better prediction of such events.
Click the play button below to see the all round view.