Contact

Apl. Prof. Dr. Gerhard Heinzel
Apl. Prof. Dr. Gerhard Heinzel
Research Group Leader
Phone:+49 511 762-19984Fax:+49 511 762-2784

Funded by BMBF (funding code: 03F0654B)

German Federal Ministy of Education and Research (BMBF)

Funded by BMBF (funding code: 03F0654B) [more]

Further information

GFZ Potsdam GRACE Follow-On launch event

Recorded NASA JPL live stream of the GRACE Follow-On launch

LISA Technology Sheds Light on Climate Change: GRACE-FO Mission

Laser Interferometry for Climate Research

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GRACE Follow-On

LISA technology is now being used for Earth observation and will improve future satellite geodesy missions. GRACE Follow-On will observe the critical indicators of climate change through changes in Earth's gravitational field. The mission successfully launched into Earth orbit on the 22nd of May 2018 from Vandenberg, California. First observational data were received in the summer of 2018.

One year in operation: the first laser interferometer between two satellites exceeds all expectations and is a successful step towards the space-based gravitational-wave observatory LISA

New laser instrument onboard GRACE-Follow-On measures Earth's gravity field with high precision

July 23, 2019

One year in operation: the first laser interferometer between two satellites exceeds all expectations and is a successful step towards the space-based gravitational-wave observatory LISA [more]

GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), was a joint US-German satellite mission that has provided new and unexpected insights into the natural processes of the Earth. In the GRACE mission, the distance between two spacecraft was measured using a microwave ranging system. Temporal estimates of the Earth's gravity field are inferred from changes in this distance. The changes in Earth's gravity field in turn can be used to measure indicators of climate change – like polar ice melt or changes in ground water level.

A successor to GRACE

The GRACE Follow-on mission reflies the identical GRACE spacecraft and instruments, but supplements the micrometre-level accuracy microwave measurement with a laser interferometer with nanometre-level accuracy.

The laser demonstration on GRACE Follow-On is a partnership between NASA, which provides the laser, cavity assembly, and ranging processor, the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ), and the Albert Einstein Institute, which is responsible for and overseeing the laser ranging instrument and in particular the measurement optics and steering mirror assembly along with instrument integration and testing.

LISA technology in an Earth orbit

For monitoring the Earth gravitational field LISA Pathfinder technology will be employed: The LISA phasemeter is being adapted to the needs of the gravity field mapping mission.

Under this project a consortium of U.S. and German institutions produced hardware for the laser ranging interferometer flying on the GRACE Follow-on mission. This system improved the inter-satellite ranging sensitivity by a factor of 200 over the initial GRACE mission.

For the first time, laser interferometry between two satellites in space measures their 220-kilometer distance to nanometer precision

First light for GRACE Follow-On Laser Interferometer

July 02, 2018

For the first time, laser interferometry between two satellites in space measures their 220-kilometer distance to nanometer precision [more]
Satellite pair with novel laser interferometer from Hannover reaches Earth orbit

Successful launch of the climate research mission GRACE Follow-On

May 22, 2018

Satellite pair with novel laser interferometer from Hannover reaches Earth orbit [more]
 
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