Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has delivered key components to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for a laser ranging system designed to achieve greater accuracy in measuring changes in Earth's ocean, groundwater and glaciers.
Ball's laser frequency stabilization reference flight units for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Follow-On spacecraft were shipped to JPL following environmental testing. The GRACE Follow-On mission is scheduled for launch as early as 2017. Ball's flight units constitute a subsystem that is part of the high-precision Laser Ranging Interferometer, a secondary payload aboard the spacecraft.
Ball's GRACE Follow-On effort advanced the state-of-the-art and proven technology that was developed as part of NASA's Instrument Incubator Program (IIP). The IIP focuses on technologies that lead to future flight instruments which are smaller and require fewer resources and less time to build. Ball's contribution to the mission builds on the company's instrument expertise and small satellite tailoring experience.
NASA's GRACE mission, with its twin satellites launched in 2002, is making detailed measurements of Earth's gravity field and revolutionizing investigations about Earth's water resources over land, ice and the ocean.