GFZ German research centre for geo sciences

Prof. Dr. Frank Flechtner

Prof. Dr. Frank Flechtner
Building A 17, Room 00.12 (Büro)
14473 Potsdam
Building 401, Room 1.02 (Bueroraeume)
Claude-Dornier-Str. 1
82234 Weßling

Function and Responsibilities:

  • Head of Section “Global Geomonitoring and Gravity Field” at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
  • Professor for Physical Geodesy at the Technical University Berlin

Scientific Interests:

  • Modelling the gravity field of the Earth, especially its time variations
  • Design and realization of future gravity satellite missions


  • 1988-1992: Scientist at the German Geodetic Research Institute (DGFI), Munich
  • 1992-2010: Scientist at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
  • 2010-2013: Temporarily Head of Section “Global Geomonitoring and Gravity Field”
  • Since 2013: Head of Section “Global Geomonitoring and Gravity Field”
  • Since 2013: Professor for Physical Geodesy at the Technical University Berlin


  • 1979: Abitur, Kopernikus-Gymnasium, Duisburg
  • 1987: Dipl.-Ing (=.M.S) Geodesy (Main subjects Physical and Mathematical Geodesy), University Bonn
  • 1999: PhD with topic „Determination of the total electron content from PRARE range and Doppler observations”, University Bonn


  • QARIOQA: Scientific and Technical Advisory Board member (1/2014-12/2024)
  • GFZ GRACE-C Project Manager (since 12/2023)
  • Airbus Quantum Gravity Gradiometer Study (10/2023-6/2024)
  • GFZ GRACE-I Phase A Study (4-9/2022): Project Lead
  • ESA NGGM/MAGIC Science Support Study during Phase A (6/2021-9/2023)
  • ESA Third Party Mission Science Study (6/2021-5/2023): Project Lead
  • Contribution to ESA MAGIC Science Support Study (5/2021-11/2022)
  • DLR GRACE-I Phase 0 Study (3-12/2021): Project Manager for science contributions
  • Study Lead "Realization of a satellite mission “GRACE-I” for parallel observation of changing global water resources and biodiversity" with DLR Space Administration, Bonn, DLR Institute for Satellite Geodesy and Inertial Sensing (SI), Hannover, DLR Institute for Space Systems (RY), Bremen,  Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Immenstaad, SpaceTech GmbH (STI), Immenstaad, Max-Planck-Institute for Gravitational Physics, Hannover, and Max-Planck-Institute of Animal Behavior, Konstanz (4-8/2020)
  • Contribution to EU funded project “Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product (G3P)” (1/2020-12/2022)
  • Work Package Manager of DLR-funded project „Ableitung von Hochwasserindikatoren aus GRACE Follow-on Missionsdaten (AHOWAG)“ (1/2020-12/2020)
  • Spokesman of DFG Research Group NEROGRAV (New Refined Observations of Climate Change from Spaceborne Gravity Missions) (since 12/2018)
  • Work Package Manager of EU H2020 funded project EGSIEM (European Gravity Service for Improved Emergency Management) (1/2015-12/2017)
  • Work Package Manager of DFG-funded project UHR_GRAV_DAT (Ultra-High Resolution GRAVity DATa) (8/2013-7/2015)
  • Work Package Manager of ESA study GETRIS (Geodesy and Time Reference in Space) (01/2012 – 12/2013)
  • GFZ GRACE-FO Project Manager (since 12/2011): responsible till launch in May 2018 for implementation of German contributed mission elements Launcher, Mission Operations, Laser Ranging Interferometer optics, Laser Retro Reflectors and Science; after launch for Mission Operations and Science Data System
  • Participation in e.motion (Earth System Mass Transport Mission) proposal for ESA Earth Explorer Call 8 (01/2010 – 11/2010)
  • Work Package Manager “Numerical simulations of future mission concepts“ within BMBF GEOTECHNOLOGIEN-3 joint project „Next Generation Gravity Missions“ (01/2010 – 12/2011)
  • Work Package Manager of ESA-funded study „Next Generation Gravity Mission (NG2)“ with EADS/Astrium and University Bonn (10/2009 – 02/2011)
  • Coordinator of the BMBF GEOTECHNOLOGIEN-3 joint project “LOTSE-CHAMP/GRACE” (Long Time Series of Consistently Reprocessed CHAMP and GRACE Data), Project Manager of GFZ project “TOBACO-CHAMP/GRACE” (Towards Baseline Consistent Reprocessed CHAMP and GRACE Data (06/2009 – 05/2012)
  • Work Package Manager in “RESEL-GRACE“ (Refined European sea level estimations by combining altimetry, tide gauges, hydrographic and other data sets with improved regional GIA modeling and tailored regional GRACE gravity field models) within TopoEurope Program of the European Science Foundation (02/2009 – 01/2012)
  • GRACE Co Principal Investigator (since 07/2009)
  • Project manager of GFZ R&D studies GRAF (GRACE Follow-on), 3M4C (Mass Motion Monitoring for Climate) and FPS (Fine Pointing Study) with German industry (SpaceTech GmbH, Friedrichshafen) (10/2008 – 11/2010)
  • Coordinator of the BMBF GEOTECHNOLOGIEN-2 joint project “Quality improved GRACE Level-1 and Level-2 Products and their validation by ocean bottom pressure” (10/2005-08/2008)
  • Principal Investigator of the PRARE-L  (PRARE Lunar Version) gravity experiment in phases 0 an A of the German moon mission LEO (Lunar Explorations Orbiter) (01/2007-08/2008)
  • Geodesy coordinator of the DFG Special Priority Program „Mass Transport in System Earth“, GFZ Manager for projects DAROTA-1/2, COTAGA, IDEAL-GRACE-1/2, JIGOG-1/2/3 and ANTARCTIC-IMB-3 (08/2005-07/2008)
  • Project lead of BMBF GEOTECHNOLOGIEN-1 joint project „Development of a scientific processing system for the GRACE mission” (10/2001 – 12/2004)
  • German project manager of the NASA/DLR satellite mission GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment). Responsible for the  mission elements launcher, Laser Retro Reflector, mission operations and development of the Science Data System (08/1998 – 03/2002)
  • Project manager of the German satellite tracking system PRARE (Precise Range and Range Rate Equipment) onboard the Russian satellite METEOR-3/7 and onboard the ESA European Remote Sensing satellite ERS-2 (10/1992 – 07/1998)

Scientific Memberships:

  • 2010-2014: Member of the GGOS Satellite Working Group
  • Since 2014: Deutsche Geodätische Kommission
  • 2015-2019: Co-Chair of IAG Sub-Commission 2.3 “Dedicated Satellite Gravity Missions”
  • Since 2017: Vice-Chair of the Directoring Board of the International Combination Service for Time-variable Gravity Products (COST-G)
  • 2019-2023: Chair of IAG Sub-Commission 2.3 “Dedicated Satellite Gravity Missions”


  • 2003: Wernher-von-Braun Distinction of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Luft- und Raumfahrt for the GFZ CHAMP/GRACE Project Team
  • 2003: NASA Group Achievement Award for GRACE Project Team
  • 2007: NASA William T. Pecora Award for GRACE Project Team
  • 2018: NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal „for outstanding leadership of the European partner organizations and science team for the GRACE mission”
  • 2019: NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal „for outstanding leadership of the GRACE-FO international partners resulting in successful launch and continuation of the 16 years record mapping Earth´s gravity”
  • 2019: Ivan Mueller Award for “Distinguished Service and Leadership” from the Geodesy Section of the AGU
  • Since 2019: Fellow of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG)
  • 2020: Winner (Top 10) in the category „Physical Sciences“ at the Falling Walls 2020 Conference, Berlin
  • 2021: AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) International Cooperation Award "For outstanding leadership of the international consortium in the planning and implementation of the successful Earth gravity missions GRACE and GRACE-FO"

Author & Editor:

  • Author or co-author of about (since 2009) 70 publications (~50 peer-reviewed)
  • 10/2018-12/2019: Guest Editor of Remote Sensing Special Issue: Remote Sensing by Satellite Gravimetry

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