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Gravity lumps
Colorful, lumpy EarthIt's a face we all know, but the portrait is entirely new. The colors in this piece of art represent Earth's gravitational field. Of course, no matter where on Earth your feet are planted, gravity buckles them to the ground. But what you might not know -- or even notice -- is that gravity is nuanced. In some places (shown in red), it is stronger than in others (blue).

To measure this variation, a NASA spacecraft trailed another as it zipped around the Earth and through its gravitational field. By measuring subtle changes in the distance between the two spacecrafts, the US-German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) crafted this map of gravity’s pull.

Some hotspots are obvious, such as the Himalayan Mountains that stretch along the border between India and Tibet. But in the oceans, mass shifts constantly and massive formations aren’t so obvious. For this reason, the Grace maps provide scientists a valuable view of the underwater landscape.

These shades of gravity will help scientists predict changes in the climate and understand how oceans move.

Courtesy NASA

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