CryoSat to observe Earth's ice cover (w/ Video)

Feb 15, 2010
Using a sophisticated radar altimeter called SIRAL (Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometric Radar Altimetry), CryoSat-2 will make accurate measurements of the thickness of floating sea-ice so that seasonal to inter-annual variations can be detected. It will also survey the surface of continental ice sheets to detect small elevation changes. Credits: ESA - AOES Medialab

(PhysOrg.com) -- The European Space Agency is about to launch the most sophisticated satellite ever to investigate the Earth's ice fields and map ice thickness over water and land: lift-off scheduled for 25 February.

Lift-off is scheduled to take place at 14:57 CET (13:57 UTC) on Thursday 25 February 2010. The launcher is operated by the international space company Kosmotras.

CryoSat will be the third of ESA’s Earth Explorer satellites in orbit, following on from GOCE (launched in March 2009) and SMOS (launched in November 2009). It was originally due to be the first in the Earth Explorer series, but the first satellite was lost as a result of a launcher failure in October 2005.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
CryoSat will determine variations in the thickness of floating sea-ice so that seasonal and interannual variations can be detected. The satellite will also survey the surface of continental ice sheets to detect small elevation changes. Information on precise variations in ice thickness will further our understanding of the relationship between ice and climate change. Credits: ESA /AOES Medialab

The 700 kg CryoSat spacecraft - whose name comes from the Greek kruos meaning icy cold - carries the first all-weather microwave radar altimeter. The instrument has been optimised for determining changes in the thickness of both floating sea , which can be up to several metres, and polar land ice sheets, which in Antarctica can be up to five kilometres. The mission will deliver data on the rate of change of the ice thickness accurate to within one centimetre.

Recent record-lows in the extent of summer Arctic sea-ice cover demonstrate that significant changes are occurring in the polar regions. Ice cover has been mapped from space for many years by satellites such as . But to understand more about how climate change is affecting these sensitive regions, there is also an urgent need to determine how ice thickness is changing. Data from will lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of ice mass, provide the scientific community with valuable information on this variable and contribute to climate change studies.

Explore further: NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

ESA's ice mission arrives safely at launch site

Jan 14, 2010

(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 ...

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 ...

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.

CryoSat set for launch

Oct 08, 2005

It's all systems go for the CryoSat spacecraft launch from Russia, European Space Agency officials said Friday.

Arctic sea ice thinning at record rate

Oct 28, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- The thickness of sea ice in large parts of the Arctic declined by as much as 19% last winter compared to the previous five winters, according to data from ESA's Envisat satellite.

Countdown to satellite launch

Oct 06, 2005

The first satellite to accurately measure how fast the Earth's polar ice caps are shrinking will be launched this weekend (on Saturday, October 8) and one of the lead researchers is from the University of Aberdeen.

Recommended for you

NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

Nov 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo ...

European space plane set for February launch

Nov 21, 2014

Europe's first-ever "space plane" will be launched on February 11 next year, rocket firm Arianespace said Friday after a three-month delay to fine-tune the mission flight plan.

Space station rarity: Two women on long-term crew

Nov 21, 2014

For the 21st-century spacewoman, gender is a subject often best ignored. After years of training for their first space mission, the last thing Samantha Cristoforetti and Elana Serova want to dwell on is the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.