Today, participants at the Living Planet Symposium have been hearing about ESA's most recently launched mission, CryoSat-2. In orbit for almost three months, the satellite is in excellent health with scientists very encouraged by the first ice-thickness data presented at the symposium.
Prof. Duncan Wingham, Lead Investigator for the CryoSat mission, stated, "The satellite is in very good shape exceeding in-orbit specifications, the ground segment software is fine, the system of data distribution looks good and we are excited by the quality of data being received. "It is extremely rewarding to see the theoretical idea we had for an ice mission 10 years ago now coming to fruition."
CryoSat-2 was launched last April, so the satellite and instruments are still being commissioned, a process that will continue until the autumn. Nevertheless, scientists and users are very excited by the first data, which already show the fine detail of the ice surface.
These data also demonstrate the added coverage that CryoSat-2 delivers. The satellite's orbit brings it closer to the poles than earlier observation satellites, covering an additional 4.6 million sq km an area larger than all 27 European Union member states put together.
CryoSat is Europe's first mission dedicated to monitoring Earth's ice fields. The satellite carries the first radar altimeter of its kind to overcome the difficulties of measuring icy surfaces.
Its primary payload, the sophisticated SAR/Interferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL), can measure the thickness of sea ice down to centimetres and monitor changes in the ice sheets on land, particularly around the edges where icebergs are calved from the vast ice sheets that blanket Greenland and Antarctica.
Together with information on ice extent, these measurements will show how the volume of Earth's ice is changing and lead to a better understanding of the relationship between ice and climate ch
|Contact: Robert Meisner|
European Space Agency