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NASA Taps Airbus to Build Twin Spacecraft for Monitoring Earth Gravity, Climate

Earth watch mission

NASA Taps Airbus to Build Twin Spacecraft for Monitoring Earth Gravity, Climate

Airbus will develop and build a twin spacecraft for the continuance of the joint space mission of NASA and the German Space Agency geared at monitoring the Earth’s gravity field and climate.

The Pasadena, California-based NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory awarded the task for the mission called GRACE-C, which stands for Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment-Continuity. The project is planned as a five-year mission to be launched from the United States around late 2018. The new mission builds upon the initial GRACE launched in 2002 and its GRACE Follow-On successor in 2018, Airbus said.

The two 600 kg satellites’ planned flights will be some 200 kilometers apart at a 500-kilometer orbit altitude with 89 degrees inclination. Friedrichshafen, Germany-based Airbus Defence and Space will produce and deliver the spacecraft to the launch site, as well as support the satellites’ launch and early orbit phase.

The new mission will continue its predecessors’ month-to-month measurements of the Earth’s gravity field to determine changes and shifts of groundwater, oceans, ice sheets and land. 

Alain Faure, Airbus space systems head, noted the valuable information that the previous GRACE missions have delivered and the importance of continuity in environmental monitoring wherein Airbus stays as a vital tool provider. 

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Category: Space

Tags: Airbus climate change German Space Agency GRACE-C Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA space