The Potsdam Gravity Potato

(via APOD;
Image Credit:

Why do some places on Earth have higher gravity than others?

Sometimes the reason is unknown.

To help better understand the
Earth’s surface, sensitive measurements by the orbiting satellites
were used to create a map of Earth’s
gravitational field.

Since a center for studying this data is in
Germany, and since the result makes the Earth look somewhat like a potato, the resulting geoid has been referred to as the Potsdam Gravity Potato.

High areas on this map, colored red, indicate areas where gravity is
slightly stronger than usual, while in blue areas gravity is
slightly weaker.

Many bumps and valleys on the Potsdam Gravity Potato can be
attributed to surface features, such as the
Mid-Atlantic Ridge
and the
Himalayan Mountains,
but others cannot, and so might relate to unusually
high or low sub-surface densities.

like this
also help calibrate changes in the
Earth’s surface including
variable ocean currents and the
melting of glaciers.

The above map was made in 2005, but more recent and more sensitive
gravity maps
of Earth was produced in 2011.

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