NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) efficiently launched from California at 9:02 a.m. EDT Saturday, embarking on its mission to measure the ice of Earth’s frozen reaches with unprecedented accuracy.
ICESat-2 lifted off from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base on United Launch Alliance’s final Delta II rocket. Ground stations in Svalbard, Norway, acquired indicators from the spacecraft about 75 minutes after launch. It’s performing as expected and orbiting the globe, from pole to pole, at 17,069 mph from a median altitude of 290 miles.
“With this mission we continue humankind’s exploration of the remote polar regions of our planet and advance our understanding of how ongoing changes of Earth’s ice cover at the poles and elsewhere will affect lives around the world, now and in the future,” mentioned Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
ICESat-2 carries a single instrument, the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS). ATLAS will probably be activated roughly two weeks after the mission operations team completes preliminary testing of the spacecraft. Then ICESat-2 will start work on its science goal, gathering sufficient knowledge to estimate the annual height change of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to inside 4 millimeters – the width of a pencil.
“While the launch today was incredibly exciting, for us scientists the most anticipated part of the mission starts when we switch on the laser and get our first data,” mentioned Thorsten Markus, ICESat-2 venture scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We are really looking forward to making those data available to the science community as quickly as possible so we can begin to explore what ICESat-2 can tell us about our complex home planet.”
The high-resolution knowledge will doc adjustments within the Earth’s polar ice caps, enhance forecasts of sea stage rise bolstered by ice sheet soften in Greenland and Antarctica, and help scientists perceive the mechanisms which might be reducing floating ice and assess how that sea ice loss impacts the ocean and environment.
ICESat-2 continues the report of ice height measurements began by NASA’s authentic ICESat mission, which operated from 2003 to 2009, that had been continued by the company’s annual Operation IceBridge airborne flights over the Arctic and Antarctic, which started in 2009. Data from ICESat-2 will probably be accessible to the general public by way of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Goddard constructed and examined the ATLAS instrument, and manages the ICESat-2 mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Northrop Grumman designed and constructed the spacecraft bus, put in the instrument and examined the finished satellite tv for pc. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based mostly at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is answerable for launch service acquisition, integration, evaluation and launch administration.