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GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mission was a joint project between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). The twin satellites were built by Astrium and launched together with a Rockot in 2002, the mission was operated by the German Satellite Operations Centre and after fifteen years the mission was still producing outstanding results.

GRACE mission lasted three times as long as originally planned. The spacecraft ran out of fuel and the mission finished on 27 October 2017.

The primary science objective of GRACE was to measure the Earth's gravity field and its time variability with unprecedented accuracy. The secondary science objective was to obtain approximately 150 very precise globally distributed vertical temperature and humidity profiles of the atmosphere per day using the GPS radio occultation technique.

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The end of GRACE

19 December 2017

GRACE, part of ESA's Third Party Missions programme, came to an end on 27 October. This joint mission of DLR and NASA measured the Earth's gravity field for fifteen years, much longer than the five years the satellites were expected to operate.

GRACE Operational: Planned switch-off of MWA

03 July 2017

The GRACE-A and B Microwave Assemblies (MWA) have been switched-off on 29 June 2017 13:40 UTC (GRACE-A) and 30 June 2017 18:37 UTC (GRACE-B), respectively. The GRACE-B Accelerometer Instrument Control Unit (ICU) on GRACE-B is off since 24 May 2017, the GRACE-A ICU has been switched-off on 29 June 2017 13:40 UTC.

Both activities are related to battery load reduction.

The switch-on of both MWAs is planned for approximately mid-August 2017.

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Facts and figures
Operators German Satellite Operations Centre (GSOC)
Date of launch: 17 February 2002
Status: Mission finished October 2017
Orbit Height 447 km (as of 29 Mar 2012)
Orbit Type Near-polar (89.5 degrees)
Onboard Sensors provided under TPM - GPS receiver
- Star camera sensors
- Accelerometer system
- K-Band satellite-to-satellite tracking system
- Laser Retro-reflector