Among other things, the MAGIC (Mass change and Geosciences International Constellation) gravity field mission was recently approved at the ESA 2022 Ministerial Council Conference. This consists of two pairs of satellites, which will be implemented in cooperation between the European and American space agencies ESA and NASA. The main objective of this mission constellation is to monitor mass transports in the Earth system, many of which are related to climate change effects, such as changes in the global water cycle, ice masses and glaciers, sea level rise and ocean currents. Compared to current missions such as GRACE and GRACE-Follow On, MAGIC will provide much higher accuracy and spatial and temporal resolution. The latter is especially important to provide key information with short latencies for operational service applications such as monitoring and forecasting of flood and drought events or water availability issues.
The Chair of Astronomical and Physical Geodesy (APG) at TUM has been leading the conception of MAGIC for years in the context of ESA-funded projects. Within the framework of the "MAGIC Science Support Study", which has just ended, extensive numerical end-to-end simulations were carried out under the leadership of the APG, which contributed significantly to the positive mission decision. In addition to this scientific support, the APG is also involved in a parallel ESA industrial study as a partner of Airbus.
As a next step, a Ground Processing Facility for the scientific evaluation of the MAGIC mission is to be established together with European partners under the leadership of TUM until the launch of the mission. This follows the model of the successful ESA mission GOCE (2009-2013), which was also co-developed and evaluated at TUM. The development of the processing infrastructure will be accompanied by extensive numerical simulation studies, which will support the optimal mission and constellation design in the further development phases, as well as the methodical further development of customized evaluation algorithms. This opens up a long-term research perspective at TUM for the development of optimized data evaluation as well as the use of mission data in numerous climate-relevant application fields. In addition, this mission will be a central element at TUM within the framework of the DFG Research Training Group UPLIFT.