National Academies Press: OpenBook

Satellite Observations to Benefit Science and Society: Recommended Missions for the Next Decade (2008)

Chapter: GRACE-II, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment II

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Suggested Citation:"GRACE-II, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment II." National Research Council. 2008. Satellite Observations to Benefit Science and Society: Recommended Missions for the Next Decade. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11952.
Page 17

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Earth Science and Applications from Space 17 GRACE-II Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment II Launch: 2016–2020 Mission size: Medium Orbit: LEO, SSO Agency: NASA Estimated cost: $450 million Areas of interest: Climate, Water Instruments: Microwave- or laser-based ranging system Benefits: Improved measurement of changes in Earth’s mass distribution due to dynamic processes Data on changes in volume of ice sheets due to climate change, leading to better climate models and estimates of sea-level rise Improved understanding of groundwater dynamics on continental scales Improved prediction of changes in sea level GRACE, twin satellites launched in March 2002, is making detailed measurements of Earth’s gravity field. Analyses of data from GRACE have led to important discoveries about gravity and Earth’s natural systems, which in turn have far-reaching benefits to society and the world’s population. Data from GRACE are providing scientists with a globally consistent measurement of the distribution of Earth’s mass and its variability in time and space. This variability in mass is due primarily to water motion. Thus, measurements from GRACE provide an integral con- straint on many geophysical processes related to land, ocean, atmo- sphere, and glaciological subsystems. A record of time variations in Earth’s gravity field reflects the redistribution and exchange of mass within and between these reservoirs. Over one-quarter of the world’s population relies on groundwater as its principal source of drinking water. Yet global observations of this critical resource are highly variable in density, with most in situ observations located within heavily exploited groundwater basins in the developed world, and few elsewhere. GRACE-II would extend and improve on the first GRACE mission. Resolution would be increased to around 100 kilometers. Accuracy could be boosted by development of a laser-based satellite-to-satellite interferometer and a drag-free propulsion system, with boosters continually fired to minimize orbital degradation caused by atmospheric drag. The re- sulting data would foster major breakthroughs in a number of areas of Earth science.

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 Satellite Observations to Benefit Science and Society: Recommended Missions for the Next Decade
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Satellite Observations to Benefit Science and Society: Recommended Missions for the Next Decade brings the next ten years into focus for the Earth and environmental science community with a prioritized agenda of space programs, missions, and supporting activities that will best serve scientists in the next decade. These missions will address a broad range of societal needs, such as more reliable weather forecasts, early earthquake warnings, and improved pollution management, benefiting both scientific discovery and the health and well-being of society.

Based on the 2007 book, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond, this book explores each of the seventeen recommended missions in detail, identifying launch dates, responsible agencies, estimated cost, scientific and public benefits, and more. Printed entirely in color, the book features rich photographs and illustrations, tables, and graphs that will keep the attention of scientists and non-scientists alike.


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