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The Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment ( GRACE ), a joint mission of NASA and the German Aerospace Center , has been making detailed measurements of Earth's gravity field since its launch in March 2002. Gravity is determined by mass . By measuring gravity, GRACE shows how mass is distributed around the planet and how it varies over time. Data from the GRACE satellites is an important tool for studying Earth's ocean , geology , and climate . GRACE is a collaborative endeavor involving the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas, Austin ; NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory , Pasadena, Calif.; the German Space Agency and Germany's National Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam. [ 1 ] The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for the overall mission management under the NASA ESSP program. The principal investigator is Dr.