Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Say "Grace" As Water-Sensing Satellites Lift Off

Date:
March 20, 2002
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
NASA and the German Center for Air and Space Flight successfully launched the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or "Grace," mission into Earth orbit at 1:21:27 a.m. Pacific time on March 17, 2002 from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The mission, comprised of identical twin satellites, will precisely measure Earth's shifting water masses and map their effects on Earth's gravity field.

NASA and the German Center for Air and Space Flight successfully launched the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or "Grace," mission into Earth orbit at 1:21:27 a.m. Pacific time on March 17, 2002 from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The mission, comprised of identical twin satellites, will precisely measure Earth's shifting water masses and map their effects on Earth's gravity field.

The five-year Grace mission-the first launch of NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program-will be a scientific boon to researchers who study Earth with space-based instruments. The monthly gravity maps generated by Grace will be up to 1,000 times more accurate than those currently in use, substantially improving the accuracy of many techniques used by oceanographers, hydrologists, glaciologists, geologists and other scientists to study phenomena that influence climate. These phenomena range from shallow and deep ocean currents, water movement on and beneath Earth's surface, and the movement and changing mass of ice sheets, to sea-level heights, sea-level rise and changes in the structure of the solid Earth.

Under partly cloudy, cold skies, the Grace twins lifted off on a Russian Rockot launch vehicle. Riding over 1,500,000 newtons (approximately 350,000 pounds) of thrust, the rocket headed northward over the Arctic Ocean and Alaska, then south across the Pacific Ocean and Antarctica before heading north again over Africa and Europe. At 85 minutes, 38 seconds into the mission-or 2:47 a.m. Pacific time-the satellites separated from the launch vehicle's third stage above Africa into a polar orbit 500 kilometers (311 miles) above Earth.

Ground controllers successfully acquired the spacecraft's signal from the German Space Operations Center's ground tracking station in Weilheim, Germany at 2:49 a.m. Pacific time. Initial telemetry reports received by the Grace team show both satellites to be in excellent health.

Following separation, the leading Grace satellite began pulling away from the trailing satellite at a relative speed of about 0.5 meters (1.6 feet) per second. Over the course of the next four days, the satellites will be spaced 220 kilometers (137 miles) apart- a little more than the distance between Los Angeles and San Diego.

As they race around the globe 16 times a day, the satellites will sense minute variations in Earth's surface mass below and corresponding variations in Earth's gravitational pull. Regions of slightly stronger gravity will affect the lead satellite first, pulling it slightly away from the trailing satellite. By measuring the constantly changing distance between the two satellites using an extremely sensitive microwave ranging system and combining that data with precise positioning measurements from Global Positioning System instruments, scientists will be able to construct a precise Earth gravity map.

During the next two and a half weeks, basic satellite operations will be established. During a subsequent three-week commissioning phase, Grace's science instruments and supporting systems will be powered up, evaluated and calibrated. The performance of the Grace system for measuring Earth gravity will then be validated over the following six months. The mission then enters its observational phase, during which routine operational data products will be made available to scientists.

Additional information about the Grace program is available on the Internet at:

http://www.csr.utexas.edu/grace .

Grace is a joint partnership between NASA and the German Center for Air and Space Flight (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft und Rumfahrt, or DLR). NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the U.S. portion of the project for NASA's Office of Earth Science, Washington. Science data processing, distribution, archiving and product verification are managed under a cooperative arrangement between JPL and the University of Texas' Austin-based Center for Space Research in the United States and Germany's Earth Research Center (or GeoForschungsZentrum).

JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Scientists Say "Grace" As Water-Sensing Satellites Lift Off." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020320080813.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2002, March 20). Scientists Say "Grace" As Water-Sensing Satellites Lift Off. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020320080813.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Scientists Say "Grace" As Water-Sensing Satellites Lift Off." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020320080813.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard. The 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise, held in custody by the Russian authorities since September last year, has departed the Russian city of Murmansk en route for its home port of Amsterdam. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins