GRACE follow-on mission


GRACE – Image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

GRACE, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, is a successful joint American-German satellite mission. In the GRACE mission, the distance between two spacecraft is measured using a microwave ranging system. Temporal estimates of the Earth’s gravity field are inferred from changes in this distance, and has provided new and unexpected insights into the natural processes of the Earth. This mission will not extend beyond 2013 and a GRACE Follow-on mission is scheduled to launch in 2017. GRACE Follow-on mission would refly the identical GRACE spacecraft and instruments, but supplement the micrometre-level accuracy microwave measurement with a laser interferometer with nanometre-level accuracy.

Under the laser interferometer project, a consortium of US, German and Australian institutions will produce prototype hardware for the laser ranging system to be flown on the GRACE Follow-on mission. The Centre for Gravitational Physics at ANU is the Australian consortium lead in technology development.

More information on the project and technology developments can be found at GRACE at ANU.

The GRACE Follow-on Mission project is supported under the Australian Government's Australian Space Research Program.

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