Topic of the Day - PolarGAP

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – PolarGAP

Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) and CryoSat 2, the two earth observing satellite missions launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) have transformed the ability of scientists to map the global gravity field of the Earth and monitor the response of the Earth’s ice fields to the global change.  However, since GOCE’s orbit does not pass through the Poles there is a data gap at the South Pole.

PolarGAP is an ambitious international mission launched for capturing new and critical data with respect to the Earth’s global gravity field.  Lidar technologies and Innovative radar systems were also deployed from the aircraft, Twin Otter in order to fill the ‘data gap’ in measurements of surface elevation over the South Pole region, south of 83.5°.

The PolarGAP project, largely funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) aimed at gathering measurements over an area of Earth that its satellites cannot see, as they generally only fly up to about 83 degrees in latitude. Particularly, ESA’s aim was to understand the pole’s gravity field and to complete the dataset gathered by its recent gravity-sensing spacecraft, (GOCE).

In order to build the first accurately constrained global gravity model, the Polar GAP project would gather new data on gravity and merge them with the data derived from the other Arctic missions. This is crucial as the data on global gravity offers unique information on transport in Earth System, mass distribution, linked to changes and various processes in the Solid Earth, atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere and hydrology.

The gravity data thus derived will be of use in planning the satellite orbit, navigation systems

The aircraft mission and deep-field work are challenging.  Using experience and expertise in aerogeophysical data collection the frontier regions of Antartica, the area that has rarely been studied will now be explored.  


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