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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 13, @07:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the getting-back-lost-gravity dept.

Less than three weeks after launch, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission has successfully completed its first mission phase and demonstrated the performance of the precise microwave ranging system that enables its unique measurements of how mass migrates around our planet.

The twin spacecraft launched May 22 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. NASA and German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) engineers and mission controllers at the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen then spent the first few days completing the mission's launch and early operations phase and moving into an 85-day in-orbit checkout period. Science operations will begin when that period has been successfully completed.

During the initial phase, the twin GRACE-FO satellites were maneuvered into their operational orbit formation approximately 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart. Spacecraft systems were powered on, checked out and found to be performing as expected. Engineers also activated both primary instruments: the accelerometers, which measure forces on the satellites other than gravity, such as atmospheric drag or solar radiation pressure; and the microwave ranging instruments, which precisely measure the distance changes between the two satellites as they orbit Earth. Variations in Earth's gravity field caused by changes in the distribution of Earth's mass on and beneath the planet's surface—such as groundwater withdrawal and ice melt—cause the distance between the two satellites to vary ever so slightly.

[...] GRACE-FO data will provide unique insights into Earth's changing climate, including large-scale changes in our planet's ice sheets and glaciers; Earth system processes that define our environment, such as droughts and earthquakes; and even the impacts of some human activities, such as changes in the levels of aquifers resulting from pumping underground water for use in agriculture. GRACE-FO observations promise to provide far-reaching benefits to society.


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday June 13, @08:47AM (2 children)

    Warnings are posted in public restrooms all over the San Joaquin Valley in California advising not to drink the water because its full of nitrates.

    there is no mention of pesticides

    --
    "Every time a bulbous dickhead helps the employers by running a job board for them, employers win." -- AC
    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, @08:58AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, @08:58AM (#692268)

      Joe: For the last time, I'm pretty sure what's killing the crops is this Brawndo stuff.
      Secretary of State: But Brawndo's got what plants crave. It's got electrolytes.
      Attorney General: "So wait a minute. What you're saying is that you want us to put water on the crops.
      Joe: Yes.
      Attorney General: Water. Like out the toilet?

      • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, @08:59AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, @08:59AM (#692270)

        "What great students," the teacher thought to himself. Not a single one misbehaved as the teacher gave his lesson. In fact, all of this teacher's classes were like this, to the point where he was famous for his teaching ability. All around the country, this man was known as 'The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher'. This was not just a reference to his unmatched ability to teach, but to something else as well: The Six Lessons.

        "The Six Lessons," as he referred to them, were six fundamental life lessons that everyone needed to know. The first lesson was that men had the fundamental right to utilize women and children as they pleased. The second lesson was that men had the fundamental right to utilize women and children as they pleased. The third lesson was that men had the fundamental right to utilize women and children as they pleased. The fourth lesson was that men had the fundamental right to utilize women and children as they pleased. The fifth lesson was that men had the fundamental right to utilize women and children as they pleased. The sixth lesson was that men had the fundamental right to utilize women and children as they pleased. Truly, this teacher emphasized repetition.

        Suddenly, long after the teacher had finished his lesson, the bell rang. "Wonderful, class! We had a truly great time together, and I am pleased to have instructed you," the teacher said gleefully. He continued, "I am fully confident that you all understand The Six Lessons now. You are dismissed." After that, the teacher walked out of the room. The students could leave as well, but something was wrong; no one moved.

        It wasn't just that the students wouldn't get up; they couldn't get up. Upon observing the children, one would understand what was transpiring. Just like all of his past students, they did not wear clothes. Just like all of his past students, they did not move. And also just like all of his past students, they would rot away in due time and be replaced with more lovely children. And he could not wait to thoroughly instruct more young, impressionable minds...

  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday June 13, @09:12AM (2 children)

    A precise gravity map is just what the Democratic People's Republic of Korea requires to drop a hydrogen bomb into the wastebasket next to the Commander In Chief's desk.

    the 1958 International Geophysical Year's mission was to measure the precise shape of the Earth. Sputnik made orbit not long after that. I am completely convinced the Year was a concerted effort by NATO and Warsaw Pact citizen scientists to prevent nuclear war by ensuring that our Destruction would be Mutually Assured.

    --
    "Every time a bulbous dickhead helps the employers by running a job board for them, employers win." -- AC
    • (Score: 2, Funny) by khallow on Wednesday June 13, @12:45PM (1 child)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 13, @12:45PM (#692316) Journal

      A precise gravity map is just what the Democratic People's Republic of Korea requires to drop a hydrogen bomb into the wastebasket next to the Commander In Chief's desk.

      Now, try doing that with a missile that has an accuracy of thousands of miles for a target which will be on the move (and shortly in the air), the moment the US detects the launch(es).

      But maybe that wastebasket had it coming.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by bob_super on Wednesday June 13, @06:30PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday June 13, @06:30PM (#692453)

        In a game of thermonuclear war, an individual wastebasket doesn't quite matter, because there's always another wastebasket available.
        City centers and datacenters don't move.

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