ESA's CryoSat-2 has delivered its first data just hours after ground controllers switched on the satellite's sophisticated radar instrument for the first time. CryoSat-2 was launched on 8 April and has been performing exceptionally well during these critical first few days in orbit.
Europe's first mission dedicated to studying variations in our planet's ice cover entered polar orbit just minutes after launch last Thursday, marking the start of three days of intense activity. Mission controllers at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, have been monitoring CryoSat-2 around the clock to ensure the satellite's systems and payload were functioning normally. The CryoSat-2 satellite was launched at 15:57 CEST (13:57 UTC), 8 April, on a Dnepr rocket provided by the International Space Company Kosmotras, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The signal confirming that it had separated from the launcher came 17 minutes later from the Malindi ground station in Kenya.
By Sunday morning, 11 April ESA's Flight Director Pier Paolo Emanuelli declared that the formal Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) was complete and said, "The satellite is in excellent condition and the mission operations team quickly resolved the few problems that came up. It's been a very smooth entry into orbit, precisely as planned."
Later on Sunday, CryoSat-2's primary instrument, the Synthetic Aperture Interferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL), was switched on for the first time and started gathering the first radar echo data.
SIRAL's first data were acquired at 16:40 CEST and were downloaded and processed at ESA's Kiruna ground station.
"We switched SIRAL on and it worked beautifully from the very start. Our first data were taken over the Antarctic's Ross Ice Shelf, and clearly show the ice cover and reflections from underlying layers. These are excellent results at such an early stage and are a tribute to the hard work of the entire Cr
|Contact: Robert Meisner|
European Space Agency