Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment
Prolific Earth Gravity Satellites End Science Mission
October 27, 2017
After more than 15 productive years in orbit, the U.S./German GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite mission has ended science operations. During their mission, the twin GRACE satellites have provided unprecedented insights into how our planet is changing by tracking the continuous movement of liquid water, ice and the solid Earth.
GRACE made science measurements by precisely measuring the distance between its twin satellites, GRACE-1 and GRACE-2, which required that both spacecraft and their instruments be fully functional. Following an age-related battery issue on GRACE-2 in September, it became apparent by mid-October that GRACE-2’s remaining battery capacity would not be sufficient to operate its science instruments and telemetry transmitter. Consequently, the decision was made to decommission the GRACE-2 satellite and end GRACE’s science mission.