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GRACE Launch

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GRACE Launch

GRACE rocket launch Spacecraft: GRACE
Launch Vehicle: Rockot
Launch Site: Eurockot’s launch facility at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome
Launch Pad: Area 133 Rockot launch complex
Launch Date: March 17, 2002
Launch Time: 1:21:27 a.m. Pacific

Image at right: The twin satellites were launched from Eurockot’s launch facility at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia aboard a Rockot launch vehicle. Image credit: Eurokot
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Twin Satellites Set to Map Ups and Downs of Earth’s Gravity Field

In a mission expected to significantly improve our understanding of climate change, a pair of identical twin satellites launched March 17, 2002, on a five-year mission to precisely map Earth’s mysterious, and surprisingly uneven, gravity field.

A partnership between NASA and the German space agency, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission, or Grace, will create monthly maps of variations in Earth’s gravity field caused by changes in Earth’s surface mass.

A more precise gravity map of Earth is expected to increase the accuracy of many techniques used by scientists around the world who use satellite instruments to study Earth. These techniques -- ranging from satellite altimetry and radar interferometry to digital terrain models covering large land and ice areas -- provide critical input to many scientific models used in oceanography, hydrology, glaciology, geology and related disciplines. The mission will also create more accurate profiles of atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity, leading to improved weather forecasts.

 

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Page Last Updated: September 30th, 2013
Page Editor: Martin Perez