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GRACE-FO Mission Set To Record Climate Data After SpaceX Launch

By | May 25, 2018
GRACE-FO satellite

Artist’s view of GRACE-FO satellite in space. Photo Credit: Airbus

The twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites, developed and built by Airbus, are closer to continuing the climate record established by the predecessor GRACE mission of 2002–2017, following their successful launch into space Tuesday aboard aSpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

GRACE-FO is a joint project between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam, near Berlin. The mission is being operated from the space operations center of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

Once maneuvered into their operational orbits, both GRACE-FO research satellites will circle Earth in a polar orbit of around 490km, with a distance of 220km between them. Accurate measurements of the inter-satellite range between the two co-planar, low altitude polar orbiting twin satellites will allow the production of global and high-resolution models of the Earth’s gravity field, offering details of how mass, in most cases water, is moving around the planet. The mission is planned to last at least five years.