GRACE Follow-On satellite duo successfully launched
The tandem of two satellites was launched on May 22, 2018 at 12:47 local time (21:47 CEST). It will be circling the Earth separated by 220 kilometers in the same orbit 490 kilometers above ground.
GRACE Follow-On is a joint project of NASA with German partners, which are led by the German Research Centre for Geosciences. It will continue the successful GRACE mission, which ended in 2017: precisely measuring the Earth’s gravity field and its changes to observe indicators of climate change. A laser interferometer on board developed under lead of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) will significantly increase the measurement precision. The interferometer is the first such instrument between two satellites in space. It is not only meant to be a pilot project for similar future missions, but also a pilot project for LISA, the planned gravitational-wave observatory in space.
First observational data are expected in the summer of 2018.
For more information please consult the website of Albert-Einstein-Institut Hannover