ESA's ice mission arrives safely at launch site

Jan 14, 2010
ESA’s Earth Explorer CryoSat mission is dedicated to precise monitoring of the changes in the thickness of marine ice floating in the polar oceans and variations in the thickness of the vast ice sheets that overlay Greenland and Antarctica. Credits: ESA/AOES Medialab

(PhysOrg.com) -- In what might seem rather appropriate weather conditions, the CryoSat-2 Earth Explorer satellite has completed its journey to the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan, where it will be prepared for launch on 25 February.

The satellite and support equipment left the ‘IABG’ test centre in Ottobrunn, Germany, by lorry on 12 January. The CryoSat mission is dedicated to precise monitoring of the changes in the thickness of marine ice floating in the polar oceans and variations in the thickness of the vast ice sheets that overlay Greenland and Antarctica. With much of Europe still in the grip of one of the coldest winters for some years, the icy conditions aptly set the stage for this first leg of CryoSat-2’s journey.  

After arriving at Munich airport, the containers were loaded onto an Antonov aircraft. Along with team members from ESA and their industrial partner for CryoSat-2, EADS-Astrium, the Antonov took off in the early evening bound for Ulyanovsk, a city some 900 km east of Moscow, Russia. Once through customs clearance at Ulyanovsk, the aircraft continued the journey to the .

The weather was -12°C and fine on arrival. Safely cocooned in its thermally controlled container, CryoSat-2 and accompanying cargo were offloaded and moved to the integration facility. The launch campaign team will now spend the next six weeks preparing the satellite for launch. CryoSat-2 will be launched by a Dnepr rocket - a converted intercontinental ballistic missile - on 25 February at 14:57 CET (13:57 UT).

With the effects of a changing climate fast becoming apparent, particularly in the polar regions, it is increasingly important to understand exactly how Earth’s ice fields are responding. Diminishing ice cover is frequently cited as an early casualty of global warming and because ice, in turn, plays an important role regulating climate and sea level, the consequences of change are far-reaching.

In order to understand fully how is affecting these remote but sensitive regions, there remains an urgent need to determine exactly how the thickness of the ice, both on land and floating in the sea, is changing. By addressing this challenge, the data delivered by the CryoSat mission will complete the picture and lead to a better understanding of the role ice plays in the Earth system.
 
Following on from GOCE and SMOS, CryoSat-2 will be the third of ESA’s Earth Explorers launched within 12 months, marking a significant step in ESA’s dedication to improving our understanding of the Earth system.

Explore further: The source of the sky's X-ray glow

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

February launch for ESA's CryoSat ice mission

Sep 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- As members of the media visit IABG’s spacecraft test centre in Germany to learn more about ESA’s CryoSat mission and view the satellite, a new target launch date of 28 February 2010 has ...

CryoSat arrives safely at launch site in Russia

Sep 02, 2005

After leaving the Space Test Centre in Germany on 29 August, CryoSat has safely arrived at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, about 800 km north of Moscow, Russia. CryoSat is scheduled for launch on 8 October 2005 at ...

CryoSat preparations for shipment to launch site to begin

Jul 22, 2005

The intense mechanical testing period is finally over for the CryoSat satellite, and with launch just a couple of months away - the very last checks are being made before the spacecraft is packed up and shipped to the launch ...

British climate satellite to be launched

Oct 05, 2005

A British satellite designed to give an extremely accurate picture of climate changes at the Earth's poles is set for launch Saturday from Plesetsk, Russia.

Ground segment declared ready for CryoSat-2 launch

Aug 07, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- An Earth observation mission does not just involve the building of a satellite, it also includes the all-important infrastructure to control the satellite and handle the data - the ground ...

Recommended for you

Titan offers clues to atmospheres of hazy planets

6 hours ago

When hazy planets pass across the face of their star, a curious thing happens. Astronomers are not able to see any changes in the range of light coming from the star and planet system.

Having fun with the equation of time

6 hours ago

If you're like us, you might've looked at a globe of the Earth in elementary school long before the days of Google Earth and wondered just what that strange looking figure eight thing on its side was.

The source of the sky's X-ray glow

Jul 27, 2014

In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft X-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system.

User comments : 0