Cockrell School of Engineering   University of Texas at Austin
UT Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Dr. Srinivas Bettadpur



Space Geodesy and Spaceflight Mechanics; Earth System Science from space.


Some are mature, others are nascent - all of these feature dynamics, modeling, estimation and interpretation...

  • Dynamics of the Earth system from satellite gravity measurements
    • Solve the challenges of mass flux estimation, validation and interpretation in near real-time
    • Use of the global, space-based methods to solving problems at the smallest regional scales
    • Best representation of gravity information for diverse Earth sciences & applications
    • What does this tell us about the dynamics of the Earth system?
  • Orbit Determination and Global Space Geodesy
    • Can we achieve the 1-mm precision orbits? How can we even tell?
    • Multi-technique mm-level positioning and global reference frames
  • Regional Applications of Global Methods
    • Using remote sensing for understanding the water cycle in Texas and northern Mexico
    • A Gulf of Mexico reference frame for natural (inundation) hazards
  • How do we apply tomorrow's technologies for space-based gravity & Earth system science?
    • Use of laser interferometry, cold-atom technologies, precise clocks, drag-free flight, etc...


    GRACE Follow-On ( - This joint NASA/GFZ mission, to be launched around Jan 2018, carries a laser interferometer in addition to the microwave inter-satellite ranging system. Our research here pertains to the near-real time and definitive gravity field estimation, modeling and interpretation of the mission data. We also carry out mission design and trade studies, as the mission moves towards its launch.

    GRACE ( - This joint NASA/DLR mission, in its 15th year of operation as of 2017, has provided unprecedented insights into the entire Earth system. Research continues on the methods to improve the resolution and accuracy of the mean and time-variable Earth gravity models; and on developing innovative new applications.

    GSFC/Drought & Flood - This collaboration with Matt Rodell (Hydrological Sciences Branch at GSFC) deals with the use of GRACE and GRACE-FO data with the lowest possible latency, tuned for North American flood and drought applications.

    Cold-Atom Technology & Space Geodesy - This JPL-SURP grant with Sheng-wey Chiow at Caltech/JPL looks at the application of cold-atom technology to modern space geodesy problems, like the estimation of the Earth gravity field.

    mm-Metrology at McDonald Observatory - This new NASA-ROSES grant, which will last through the year 2018, is looking at mm-precision laser metrology to aid the realization of next generation terrestrial reference frames.

    OGMOC: With this collaboration with TU-Munich and DTU, lasting through mid-2017, we are looking at optimal combination of GRACE and GOCE data for the purpose of obtaining the best estimates of geostrophic ocean currents using satellite altimetry and the geoid

    Water Cycle in Texas & Northern Mexico - In collaboration with MAGIC group at (UTCSR), we are expanding research into the joint use of GRACE/GRACE-FO, NDVI (from MODIS), precipitation and other available remote sensing resources for the characterization and understanding of the water cycle in Texas and Northern Mexico. A post-doc joined in 2016, and is helping us take this to the next phase of expansion.

Following projects concluded recently, but my hope is that the accomplishments from these projects will lead to more interesting work in these areas in the future.

    Bangladesh & GRACE - This collaboration with Mike Steckler (LDEO/Columbia University) is winding down, and led to us testing the smallest spatio-temporal resolutions to which water loads could be meaningfully extracted from the GRACE data.

    Drag-Free Systems for Satellite Gravity - A collaboration with David Wiese (JPL), this project is wrapping up a study on the specification of requirements for a drag-free system for next generation gravity field measurement missions. The outcomes should inform future space mission design studies.