Airbus Maintains Collaboration with NASA in Space-Based Climate Change Monitoring

Airbus Secures NASA Contract for GRACE-C Twin Spacecraft Development NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), located in Pasadena, California, has awarded Airbus a significant contract to spearhead the design and construction of the GRACE-C twin spacecraft. This endeavor marks a new collaborative mission between NASA and the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), reinforcing a robust partnership dating back over two decades. The partnership, which commenced in 2002 with the GRACE mission and persisted with the launch of GRACE Follow-On in 2018, aims to ensure continuous monitoring of Earth’s gravity field.

The GRACE-C Mission (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment-Continuity) is slated to operate for a nominal period of five years, during which it will uphold the tradition of observing Earth’s dynamic changes. These changes encompass shifts in groundwater, oceans, ice sheets, and land, monitored on a month-to-month basis through precise measurements of the planet’s gravity field.

Alain Fauré, Head of Space Systems at Airbus, emphasized the critical role of continuity in environmental monitoring, highlighting the invaluable data provided by preceding GRACE missions. He expressed Airbus’s commitment to contributing to this international mission, which furnishes essential tools for tracking the evolution of our climate.

The GRACE-C constellation comprises two identical satellites orbiting approximately 200 km apart at an altitude of 500 km and an inclination of 89 degrees. Each satellite, measuring around 3 x 2 x 1 meters and weighing approximately 600 kg, will facilitate comprehensive observations. Launch preparations are underway, with the anticipated launch window set for late 2028 from the United States.

Similar to its predecessors, the GRACE-C mission is engineered to detect minute variations in distance between the satellites induced by gravitational fluctuations. This unparalleled precision, down to the micron level, enables the mapping of Earth’s gravity field, offering insights into global water balance, ocean currents, and the impact of climate change.

GRACE-C represents an evolution of the GRACE Follow-On satellites, featuring upgraded avionics and the integration of the joint US-German Laser Ranging Interferometer (LRI), which serves as the primary ranging instrument.

This collaborative effort between NASA and DLR is supported by German funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The scientific evaluation of mission data will be conducted by the GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ) and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), with SpaceTech GmbH contributing to the construction of the laser system.

Airbus Defence and Space in Friedrichshafen will oversee the design, construction, and delivery of the satellites to the launch site, providing Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) support for NASA/JPL. The mission’s operations will be managed by the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) of DLR.

In summary, the GRACE-C mission represents a continuation of successful endeavors aimed at monitoring Earth’s environment and advancing scientific understanding of climate dynamics.

#AirbusSpace #NASAJPL #DLR_SpaceAgency #GRACE

Source Link:

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter