ESA’s CryoSat the most sophisticated satellite ever to investigate the Earth’s ice fields and map ice thickness over water and land was scheduled to launch February 25, 2010 at 14:57 CET (13:57 UTC) and is scheduled to launch on April 8, 2010. The launcher is operated by the international space company Kosmotras. Its primary objective is to test the prediction that Arctic sea ice is thinning due to global warming.
Image Credit: ESA
The CryoSat satellite sensor whose name comes from the Greek kruos meaning icy cold – carries the first all-weather microwave radar altimeter. The instrument has been optimized for determining changes in the thickness of both floating sea ice, which can be up to several meters, and polar land ice sheets, which in Antarctica can be up to five kilometers. The mission will deliver data on the rate of change of the ice thickness accurate to within one centimeter.
Data from CryoSat will lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of ice mass, provide the scientific community with valuable information on this variable and contribute to climate change studies.
CryoSat will also survey the surface of continental ice sheets to detect small elevation changes. CryoSat’s high spatial resolution radar altimeter is capable of operating in a number of modes, optimized for measurement over different surfaces.
For some years, satellites such as Envisat, ASTER and Landsat 7 +ETM have been mapping the extent of ice cover. However, in order to understand how climate change is affecting these sensitive regions, there is an urgent need to determine how the thickness of the ice is changing.
CryoSat: ESA’s ice mission – An Overview
Satellite image data is expected to contribute to a wide array of global change-related application areas for vegetation and ecosystem dynamics, hazard monitoring, geology and soil analysis, land surface climatology, hydrology, land cover change, and the generation of orthorectified digital elevation models (DEMs).
In addition to changes in the atmosphere’s composition, changes in the land surface can have important effects on climate. For example, land change can affect temperature by changing how much solar radiation the land reflects and absorbs. Processes such as deforestation, reforestation, desertification and urbanization often contribute to changes (including temperature, wind and precipitation) in the places they occur. These effects may be significant regionally, but reduced when averaged over the entire globe.
With regard to studies about the Earth’s cryosphere, high resolution satellite sensors such as the GeoEye-1 at 0.41m resolution, WorldView-2 at 0.46m, Worldview-1, QuickBird, and IKONOS, these sensors will be an important tool for tracking changes in the Arctic and elsewhere.
About Satellite Imaging Corporation:
Satellite Imaging Corporation (SIC), a privately held technology company that provides high resolution satellite imagery from satellite sensors such as GeoEye-1, WorldView-2 Worldview-1, QuickBird, IKONOS, SPOT-5 and other remote sensing products for analysis and mapping applications such as Geographic Information System (GIS).
The company specializes in mono and stereo satellite imaging technology producing seamless orthorectified satellite imaging mosaics DEM’s and 3D terrain models for many industries using CAD and GIS applications including engineering and construction, homeland security, defense, intelligence and disaster response using high and medium resolution mono and stereo satellite image data.