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Image of the Day: Earth's True Shape Revealed for 1st Time

After two years in orbit, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) is nearing the end of its planned life span in February, producing the most accurate map ever of the so-called geoid -- an Earth-encompassing spirit level and global reference surface. An unused supply of xeon fuel will allow the mission to be extended until at least the end of 2012.

Markedly different from a simple sphere or ellipsoid, the geoid is the mathematically 'true' shape of Earth. It represents a motionless global ocean but takes into account the effects of the Earth’s rotation, weight difference resulting from the position of mountains and ocean trenches, and uneven mass distribution and density variations in the planet’s interior.

The resulting small variations in the Earth’s gravitational field feature on the geoid as ‘bulbs’ and ‘dips’ in an idealized ‘ocean’ surface.

ESA scientists presented the latest version of the GOCE-derived geoid map –- based on eight months of data processed so far –- at a user workshop this week in Munich, Germany.

The Daily Galaxy via ESA

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Wow, what a lumpy piece of shit planet we live on. I'm moving to the moon.

Interesting. My wife's from Sri Lanka (off the southern coast of India). No wonder people are so happy there--there's hardly any gravity! ;-)

It's probably an April Fool's joke

Sh-t Australia looks like the ar$e end of the world! Actually like a haemorrhoid on the world

what's the date again?

I can confer that Andrew T's wife is a whore. That's why she's so happy at the time.

Nice to see I don't exist, along with most of the asia pacific.

Too many April fool's jokes going around, but this one seems like a real thing. :) Here for reference: http://www.esa.int/esaLP/SEMQC9VTLKG_LPgoce_0.html

Why do I even bother reading news on April fools day, it's pointless.

I've always suspect that the shape is potatoes or donuts.

I've always suspect that the shape is potatoes or donuts.

-- an Earth-encompassing spirit level and global reference surface called geiod.Thanks for letting us know something new...

For some reason, I don't believe this crap. So many pictures show earth as an almost round orb. why don't the real pictures we have seen over the years make the earth look like this, if this is true. april fools one day late.
I guess the next thing we'll be told, is "oops, the earth really is flat.'


you're failing to differentiate between a picture of the Earth's atmosphere and a 'geoid' true physical model of the Earth's surface.

I think this picture is absolutely a believable representation , and at least it's stunning. Hah. So, rob, welcome to Earth, maybe we're not perfect but non the less we're beautiful. We Humans may just indeed identify with that.


Gee. Oh. It is even made of colored Play Dough!

To anyone that thinks this is a hoax, you've been misled.

A geoid accounts for gravity and density irregularities, and depicts what a mean sea level surface would be if water could freely flow across Earth's surface. Geodesy is the field of study in which measurements are made to determine the actual shape of the planet. Geophysics also uses the concept of the geoid extensively in performing experiments and observations. This updated version of the geoid is the most accurate to date, and the implications it holds in those fields of study that employ it are massive.

The problem I assume is keeping you from accepting this, is that the 3D representation of this new data has been exaggerated for your viewing pleasure. The actual amount of variation when compared to an idealized ellipsoid is less than 200 meters, too small of a difference to be detected from space with human eyes. It's like looking at a presumably flat surface through an electron microscope, only to find what appears to be rugged and rough, with great variation in relief.

Yes - this is NOT how Earth looks like from space, this is basically a an 3D radial plot of where the "bulges" and the "pits" are. The actual shape is similar to that, but the differences are far (faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar) more obvious - unnoticeable on earth-scale.
The shape is determined by the irregularities of mass distribution. But I note that this distribution is not permanent - the Earth's crust is composed of a number of plates that are moving, generated on one end and being destroyed on the other, so over time (much larger than a human lifespan), the mass distribution may change.

This knowledge is useful to geoscientific in many ways.
To general public too. For example, this can make our maps more accurate, or can make the GPS more precise.


1. (faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar) more obvious ==> (faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar) less obvious

This knowledge is useful to geoscientific in many ways


This knowledge is useful to geoscientists in many ways
(damn spell checker...)

Can someone cite the site used for the video? I need the URL for my presentation.


hope that helps you Makks

so they were right about the earth being flat....at least in places

It looks like the globe from PeeWee's Playhouse.

Heart and keep pushing, keep the pursuit of progress

I've seen this in 1992-93, it was published in a French science magazine for teenagers (like me at the time), called 'Science & vie Junior'.
I remember it well because i've made a mini lecture about it at school, and nobody wanted to believe nor wanted to stop laughing, even the teacher.

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