The launch of Europe’s revolutionary new satellite GOCE has gone off without a hitch after its planned launch on Monday was postponed just seven seconds before blastoff. The satellite is designed to map the Earth’s gravity, which varies around the globe and influences sea levels and ocean currents, critical to a better understanding of our climate.“Indeed, GOCE is one of a series of earth explorer satellites that will be launched over the next several years. In fact each one of them is designed to address a key earth science topic and in so doing we’ll be able to piece together the information in order to better understand the different elements of the earth system,” said project scientist Mark Drinkwater. Goce’s ion motor will allow the satellite to fly for two years, and eventually map the Earth’s exact dimensions to within a few centimetres. It will be followed by SMOS, which will measure salinity levels in the oceans, and Cryosat 2, designed to measure the ice cover and thickness at the poles.