Ten years ago today — March 17, 2002 — two Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment spacecraft were launched from Plesetsk on a Rockot booster.
(GRACE-1 and GRACE-2. NASA image.)
GRACE-1, nicknamed “Tom,” and GRACE-2, nicknamed “Jerry,” were identical satellites, part of a joint U.S.-German mission “to obtain accurate global and high-resolution values of both the static and time-variable components of the Earth’s gravitational field.” Part of the mission involved mapping the tiny variations in gravity caused by environmental changes such as ice formation and melting, glacier movements, and changes in sea level.
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Ten years earlier, on Saint Patrick’s Day 1992, Russia’s Soyuz TM-14 launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome carrying cosmonauts Aleksandr S. Viktorenko and Aleksandr Y. Kaleri and German astronaut Klaus-Dietrich Flade to the Mir space station.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!by