What: The Center for Space Research at The University of Texas at Austin is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which has been making detailed measurements of Earth since its launch in March 2002. About 70 engineers and researchers from UT Austin who have contributed to the GRACE mission will be commemorating the anniversary with a champagne toast and the presentation of a NASA video about the GRACE mission.
When: 3 p.m., Friday, March 17
Where: The Center for Space Research
3925 W. Braker Lane, J.J. Pickle Research Campus West, first-floor Atrium
Who May Attend: Although the celebration is a private event, media members are welcome to attend. Note: Researchers will be available for interviews from 2:30 to 3 p.m.
Background: Since 2002, the GRACE twin satellite mission — a joint NASA/German Aerospace Center (DRL) mission — has provided unprecedented insight into groundwater and surface-water change, polar ice sheet and glacier melt, sea level change, and ocean and land-mass changes. GRACE was expected to be in space for only five years, but it has orbited the Earth for three times as long because of the hard work of professionals from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam German Research Centre for Geosciences, and the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin.
Through the years, UT Austin’s Center for Space Research has directed the project for NASA and will continue its scientific leadership in the field when the GRACE Follow-On mission, which is a continuation of GRACE, is launched in early 2018.
The GRACE satellites continue to provide critical climate and water resource insights even as they are powered by only a few battery cells (comparable to two small camcorder batteries) when in the Earth’s shadow.
GRACE is led by principal investigators Byron Tapley and Srinivas Bettadpur, professors in the Cockrell School of Engineering.