Satellite gravity: Insights into the Solid Earth and its fluid envelope


  • Jean O. Dickey,

    1. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MS 238-332, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, CA 91109-8099
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  • Charles R. Bentley,

  • Roger Bilham,

  • James A. Carton,

  • Richard J. Eanes,

  • Thomas A. Herring,

  • William M. Kaula,

  • Gary S. E. Lagerloef,

  • Stuart Rojstaczer,

  • Walter H. F. Smith,

  • Hugo M. van den Dool,

  • John M. Wahr,

  • Maria T. Zuber


The Earth is a dynamic system. It has a fluid, mobile atmosphere and oceans; a continually changing distribution of ice, snow, and groundwater; a fluid core undergoing hydromagnetic motion; a mantle undergoing both thermal convection and rebound from glacial loading of the last ice age; and mobile tectonic plates. These processes affect the distribution of mass in the Earth and produce variations in the Earth's gravitational field (Figure 1) on a variety of spatial and temporal scales (Figure 2) . Highly accurate measurements of the Earth's gravity field made with appropriate spatial and temporal sampling can thus be used to better understand the processes that move mass within the Earth and above its surface.