The Earth’s Geoid

This video is no April’s fool joke: Earth really is shaped like a potato. However, the shape that you see here is, um, slightly exaggerated to highlight its irregularities. Another caveat: what is depicted here is not the shape of the planet, but rather the shape of an idealized sea-level surface extending around the entire globe—a surface that Earth scientists call the geoid.

The video is the most accurate reconstruction of the geoid to date, and was released by the European Space Agency at a scientific meeting in Munich on March 31 (see a video of the related press conference here). It is based on data collected by ESA’s Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE). The five-meter long, arrowhead-shaped probe has been in a low orbit for almost exactly two years, collecting painstakingly accurate measurements of the gravitational field of Earth.

Scientific American

 The Earths Geoid
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