Tracking the level of the ice on the Earth’s surface is important as never before. Noticing changes in the climate, climate scientists are trying to identify their causes. For example, they need to identify the degree of influence of melting glaciers on global sea level and counting the number of forests in each territory.
To perform this work, the carrier rocket Delta II to bring the satellite ICESat-2 orbit at an altitude of 496 km above the ocean level. It is noteworthy that the missile was operated for more than 30 years, so this mission will be her last.
To scan the surface of the Earth, the satellite will use lidar ATLAS. Radiating 10 000 laser pulses per second, for three years, he will record changes in the earth’s landscape. A complete revolution around the Earth would be done every six months, special attention will be paid to snow, ice and forest areas.
Each pulse is made up of trillions of photons. They will be reflected from the surface of the planet — the time it takes to the path of rays back and forth will allow you to create a detailed height map. It is expected that the calculations are so precise that will show even a millimeter melting glaciers of Greenland.
The launch will be held on the launch pad SLC-2W, located in California U.S. air force base Vandenberg. A live webcast of the launch will begin on September 15 at 15:46 Moscow time on YouTube-channel NASA.
The first device ICESat with the same task was launched in 2003 and worked for 6 years. His main instrument was a lidar GLAS, emitting only 40 pulses per second.
This and other news you can discuss in our telegram chat.