in Space

Airbus receives go-ahead for twin GRACE-FO satellites

Posted 10 November 2017 · Add Comment

After a successful year-long test campaign by Airbus at IABG in Ottobrunn near Munich, the twin GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On) satellites will soon travel to their launch site in California.


 
During testing, the gravity-measuring satellites, which will track the continuous movement of liquid water, ice and the solid Earth due to Earth's changing seasons, weather and climate processes, earthquakes and even human activities, were subjected to conditions similar to those they will experience during launch and in low Earth orbit. Both satellites, each weighing 600 kilograms, will be flown to the Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site in California in December to begin final launch preparations.
 
The project is a partnership between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, located in Pasadena, California, together with the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ, Potsdam). Both GRACE-FO research satellites will be launched into a polar orbit at an altitude of around 500 km and at a distance of 220 km apart. Both satellites will then take continuous, very precise measurements of the distance variations between each other and make monthly maps of the changes in Earth’s gravitational field, which are used to track the monthly movement of liquid water, ice and the solid Earth.



The launch of the GRACE-FO twin satellites is planned for spring 2018 on a mission planned to last at least five years.
 
A Global Positioning System and a microwave ranging system measure the distance between the satellites to within a few microns and a sensitive accelerometer accounts for non-gravitational effects, such as atmospheric drag and solar radiation. The GRACE-FO satellites will also feature an additional element: a new, more precise inter-satellite laser ranging instrument, developed by a German/American joint venture, which will be tested for use in future generations of gravitational research. Each satellite also makes up to 200 profiles of temperature distribution and water-vapour content in the atmosphere and the ionosphere on a daily basis to aid weather forecasting.
 
The German/American GRACE satellites, which have been in space since 2002, are the only satellites that have been capable of monitoring the transport of mass within the Earth system. These include changes in continental water distribution, the melting of polar ice masses or large inland glaciers, and mass redistributions following earthquakes. Data from the GRACE satellites are used to detect groundwater extractions, to monitor droughts and floods, to improve hydrological models, and to precisely quantify the contribution of land glacier and polar ice melt to sea level rise.
 
Long-duration data sets are vital to provide statistically significant information about climate changes and variations. The GRACE-FO mission will continue the important job started by GRACE and collect essential climate variables.

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

AAD2018: Air BP tech services to support African aviation growth

International aviation fuel products and services supplier, Air BP, returns to Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD2018) at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria, South Africa, this week, using the event to share how its technical

Qatari Typhoon and Hawk export deal takes off

Qatar’s deal to buy 24 Typhoon jets and nine Hawks is now officially effective after BAE Systems received its first payment yesterday.

Net successfully snares space debris

The RemoveDEBRIS satellite has successfully used its on-board net technology in orbit, marking the first demonstration in human history of active debris removal (ADR) technology.

Steve Griffiths appointed Stansted Airport COO

Steve Griffiths, most recently Chief Operating Officer for the London Underground at Transport for London and previously Chief Operating Officer for Virgin Atlantic Airways, has been appointed Chief Operating Officer (COO) of

JFD and US Navy unveil Shadow Nav

JFD has partnered with the United States (US) Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Centre – Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) in the development of an advanced combat diver navigation module, Shadow Nav, bringing a hands-free underwater

ICAO calls for applications to YAPP

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is calling for applications to the 2019 Young Aviation Professionals Programme (YAPP).

RUBB_SK_1906190119
See us at
AdvancedEngin BT1406011118SMI GMSCBT3005081118Aviation Africa 2019SMIFAVSBT151118DVD18BT3105200918