SpaceX has been on a roll for a long time now, and the rocket company is on with yet another feat of a successful launch, tenth since the start of this year. Two of the satellites launched by the United States Private space firm is out with a mission of tracking the global water cycle and five other Iridium satellites are out to join the communication improvement squad of a constellation of about fifty more Iridium satellites, making the total a whopping fifty-five, all owned by the Iridium Communications.
Twin Spacecraft, launched to track the water cycle, is a part of a joint mission pioneered by NASA along with German research center. The Grace-FO spacecraft will be providing crucial information about the water cycle and the same data will be used to improvise on the lives of people by a better prediction of the drought impacts and will also help catering to the water management from the underground aquifers.
The launch was successfully carried out from Vandenberg Airforce base situated in California. The launched satellites have been performing according to the expectations so far. The distance between the two satellites has been slightly influenced by the gravitational field changes, and these satellites stand apart by as many as 220 Kilometers. The distance is being continuously monitored by advanced instruments.
According to Frank Webb, the project scientist of GRACE-FO at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, data from several decades is a must for a thorough understanding of the changes that are taking place in the climate systems. The data records from GRACE is part of the same project, and the same data will help scientists with a better understanding of the difference between long-term trends and short-term variability.
GRACE-FO will be moving in space to reach the ultimate separation distance and once the position is achieved the 85-day long mission will be entering its in-orbit phase. Dedicated mission in-charges are continuously evaluating the alignment and calibration processes. The data received from GRACE-FO is expected to be out in seven months from now.
The satellites are equipped with a new advanced tool known as Laser Ranging Interferometer. This tool has an ability to detect even the slightest of measurements and is almost ten times precise than the normal microwave instrument. The GRACE-FO will be mapping the Earth’s water for a period of next five years from now.