A duo of twin satellites have launched on a big Earth mission! Our GRACE Follow-On mission launched onboard a SpaceX (@SpaceX
) Falcon 9 rocket today, May 22 at 3:47 p.m. EDT, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. GRACE-FO will study changes in Earth’s 💎ice sheets, 💦groundwater storage, 💥quake-shifted land, and 🌊ocean currents. GRACE-FO shared its ride to orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites as part of a commercial rideshare agreement with the German Research Centre for Geosciences.
Changes in how mass is distributed within and between Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, groundwater and ice sheets are fundamental indicators of the large-scale dynamics of the planet. For more than 15 years, our Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission monitored mass changes every month with far-reaching impact on our understanding of the Earth system and how it is evolving. GRACE Follow-On continues the legacy of GRACE, tracking Earth’s water movement and surface mass changes across the planet. Monitoring changes in ice sheets and glaciers, near-surface and underground water storage, the amount of water in large lakes and rivers, as well as changes in sea level and ocean currents provides an integrated global view of how Earth’s water cycle and energy balance are evolving—measurements that have important applications for everyday life.
Swipe to see a timelapse image of launch and other launch images.
Photo Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls