Both GRACE-FO Satellites Are Healthy

The NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself. GRACE-FO is sharing its ride to orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites as part of a commercial rideshare agreement. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Telemetry from both GRACE-FO satellites indicates that both satellites are healthy.

For the next few days, they will be in different orbits, one slightly lower than the other. The different orbits cause them to move apart until the lower satellite is 137 miles (220 kilometers) in front of the other, the optimal separation distance for their measurements. At that point, the lower satellite will be moved up into the same orbit as the higher satellite.

After these maneuvers, the mission begins an 85-day in-orbit checkout phase. Mission managers will evaluate the instruments and satellite systems and perform calibration and alignment procedures. After that, the satellites will begin gathering and processing science data. The first science data are expected to be delivered to users in about seven months.