NASA has been successful in the launching of its much-anticipated laser satellite to track the loss of ice sheets and glaciers across the world as the climate goes on with its warming trend.
The ICESat-2 was set into its target orbit using a Delta II rocket. The rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force located in California at exactly 6.02 am.
The satellite is considered to be the US space agency’s most advanced laser satellite and will utilize all of its capabilities to measure accurately the sea levels and sea ice cover.
The satellite is designed to measure the rate of melting for glaciers and also the speed at which ice sheets on the land are shrinking in size.
The laser satellite ICESat-2 will operate in a series of orbits chosen for it to travel over the poles to enable it to monitor the ice sheets and glaciers. Many of those target ice sheets and glaciers are undergoing significant change.
The satellite will help in providing the measurement that builds basically on those provided by the original ICESat, which has operated in collaboration with Operation IceBridge, which is an airborne mission.
The laser onboard the satellite has the ability to fire 10,000 times a second while traveling at a speed of 7km a second from a height of about 300 miles.
Then after the firing of a laser, it will measure the time it takes to return the photons of the laser to earth with an accuracy of less than one billionth of a second.
The equipment will measure every 2.3ft along the satellite’s path.
A NASA official, after the spacecraft took off from the launchpad in California, said: “Lifting ICESat-2 on a quest to explore the polar ice sheets of our constantly changing home planet.”
NASA said: “The mission will gather enough data to estimate the annual elevation change in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets even if it’s as slight as four millimeters – the width of a No. 2 pencil.”
Tom Wagner, cryosphere program scientist at NASA, added: “One of the things that we are trying to do is… characterize the change that is taking place within the ice, and this is going to greatly improve our understanding of that, especially over areas where we don’t know how… it is changing right now.”
NASA was in news all the week about its much-anticipated launch and finally, that went off successfully. The project is hoped to bring many important reports back to the earth to help asses the damage done to the earth’s climate.
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