GRACE-FO is a collaborative effort from both NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, built in partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), was successfully launched on 22 May 2018 at 7:47pm GMT (12:47pm PDT) from California, Untied States. The twin spacecraft will now track the perpetual movement of water and other changes in Earth’s mass on and beneath the planet’s surface.
GRACE-FO was launched via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, United States. It shared its ride with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites. Since the launch all signs have been positive from the ground stations, which have acquired signals from both GRACE-FO spacecrafts. According to initial telemetry, the satellites appear to be functioning as expected as they orbit Earth at an altitude of 490 kilometres (305 miles), travelling at a speed of 7.5 kilometres per second (16,800 miles per hour). In this near-polar orbit, GRACE-FO completes one orbit of Earth every 90 minutes.
“GRACE-FO will provide unique insights into how our complex planet operates,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s ...