A new generation of satellites will monitor the climate

The two twin satellites of NASA’s new climate monitoring mission are almost ready for work. The space agency reported that their lasers have already been activated and are working as expected.

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission (GRACE-FO) consists of a continuation of a previous similar project.It is now built with two new generation satellites that will use lasers to be significantly more precise in the observations and data they collect.

The satellites were brought into orbit on 22 May this year with a SpaceX missile. They will monitor the changes in the level of water on the surface of the planet as well as the melting of ice caps. To this end, satellites will measure changes in gravitational pull from the Earth to themselves.

The two satellites will be connected by lasers that will monitor even the smallest changes in position between the two sets. All this will allow scientists to accurately track changes in gravity not only in different time periods, but also across the different regions of the Earth. The information gathered will give an idea of ​​the movement of magma beneath the earth’s crust. In this way, scientists will be able to monitor climate change and near-real-time Earth processes.

The laser system is still experimental. That’s why satellites have a classic, already used, microwave system. The aim of the new satellites is not only to provide more information to scientists but also to improve the technology so that it can also be used for even more sophisticated future missions.

‘’The fact that the lasers should be directed to a hole with a coin size of 220 km. as they travel around the ground by over 25,700 km / h and have been able to connect from the first attempt, makes this technology even more impressive, “said Kirk McKenzie, member of the project team.

Technology has been developing for about 10 years and is being applied for the first time between two spacecrafts in real-world conditions. Scientists will spend the next few weeks in tests and additional setting of the satellites to make sure everything is right and they understand the data they get. Then the satellites begin the official part of their mission