The satellite is in a polar orbit, reaching latitudes of 88. This orbit brings it closer to the poles than earlier Earth observation satellites, covering an additional 4.6 million sq km an area larger than all 27 European Union member states put together.
CryoSat-2's sophisticated instruments will measure changes at the margins of the vast ice sheets that lie over Greenland and Antarctica and marine ice floating in the polar oceans. By accurately measuring thickness change in both types of ice, CryoSat-2 will provide information critical to scientists' understanding of the role ice plays in the Earth system.
"The combined ground teams proved the value of months of extensive training and preparation and the satellite has shown to be a high-quality machine with very few problems. The launch and orbit injection have been almost flawless and we are looking forward to an extremely productive mission," said Richard Francis, ESA's Project Manager for CryoSat-2.
With LEOP complete, ground experts will now put CryoSat-2 through an exhaustive commissioning phase lasting several months, during which the systems on board the satellite and on the ground will be optimised to provide the best-ever ice thickness data from space.
"We are very happy with the first calibration results from SIRAL. The data are now being processed and made available almost immediately to the commissioning teams. We are now optimising the data-processing system and results will be released once we have accumulated enough data," said Tommaso Parrinello, ESA's CryoSat mission Manager.
Marking a significant achievement for ESA's Earth observation programme, CryoSat-2 is the third of its Earth Explorer satellites to be placed in orbit, all within a little over 12 months. CryoSat-2 follows on from the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission, la
|Contact: Robert Meisner|
European Space Agency