The Grace Mission Status and Future Activities

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 2:10 PM
Byron D Tapley, Univ Texas Austin, Austin, TX, United States, Frank Flechtner, GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany, Srinivas V Bettadpur, Univ Texas - Ctr Space Rsch, Austin, TX, United States and Michael M Watkins, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States
The twin satellites of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) were launched on March 17, 2002 and have operated continuously for almost 13 years. During this time, the results from the mission have been used to support a wide range of contemporary studies of Earth System Dynamics. The mission objectives are to sense the spatial and temporal variations of the Earth’s mass through its effects on the gravity field at the GRACE satellite altitude. The primary mission objectives of GRACE are to measure: 1) the Earth’s time-averaged gravity field over the mission life and 2) the monthly variations in the mean gravity field at wave lengths between 200 and 4000 km. The major cause of the time varying mass is water motion and the GRACE mission has provided a continuous decade long measurement sequences which characterizes the seasonal exchange of mass between the oceans, land, cryosphere and atmosphere; its inter-annual variability; and the climate driven secular, or long period, mass transport signals. Measurements of continental aquifer mass change, polar ice mass change and ocean bottom currents are examples of paradigm shifting remote sensing observations enabled by the GRACE satellite measurements. In 2012, a complete reanalysis of the mission data, referred to as the RL05 data release, was initiated. The monthly solutions from this effort were released in mid-2013 and have been applied in numerous science and application related investigations. The RL05 mean and combined models, involving the GRACE/GOCE data combinations, are still in development. This presentation will describe the current mission status and operations activities, which are focused on extending the mission lifetime, review some of the science improvements from the RL05 data release and describe the status and remaining tasks to complete the solution.