From: Yale Environment 360
Published September 19, 2017 11:46 AM

Satellites that Measure Ice Loss to Go Dark

The twin satellites that have been critical in measuring the world’s melting ice sheets for 15 years will soon shut down — months before their replacement is launched into orbit, NASA announced, creating a gap in the ice data record that has been instrumental in studying the impacts of global warming.

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites (GRACE-1 and GRACE-2), a U.S.-German collaboration, have run for a decade past their expected life, but are nearly out of fuel, Science magazine reported. The satellites measure tiny shifts in the Earth’s gravity that represent the flow of mass on the planet, including the melting of ice in the poles and the drawdown of groundwater aquifers.

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Illustration: Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites in orbit. 

Credit: NASA-JPL / CALTECH

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