Nasa is preparing to launch its Satellite-2, or ICESat-2 on Saturday for Ice, Cloud and land Elevation that will help in tracking melting poles and disappearing sea ice.
The satellite will go into space for a three year period mission and is scheduled to be launched at 8.46 am EDT on September 15 this year for which the liftoff aboard will be Satellite Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex-2 (SLC-2), the US space agency said in its blog post late on Tuesday.
ICESat-2 is the most advanced laser instrument of NASA – or can be called as the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System or simply ATLAS.
The device measures the height by exactly and precisely timing about how long it takes for individual photons of light from a laser to leave the satellite, bounce off Earth and then return to the satellite.
According to NASA, the satellite will provide critical observations of how ice sheets, sea ice, and glaciers are changing and this, in turn, will lead to insights into how those changes impact people where they live.
ICESat-2’s orbit will make a total of 1,387 unique ground tracks around Earth within 91 days and then will start the same kind of ground pattern again at the start.
The first ICESat satellite (2003-09) had measured ice only with a single laser beam and this one, ICESat-2 splits its laser light into a total of six beams helping it better to cover more ground (or ice).
The facility of the arrangement of the beams into three pairs will also allow scientists to assess the actual slope of the surface they are attempting to measure, NASA said.
More to that, ICESat-2 is designed to move around the planet at the rate of 7 km per second which will enable it to complete an orbit around the Earth within 90 minutes. The orbits have been set in such a way that it will converge at the 88-degree latitude lines around the poles to enable focusing of the data coverage in the region where scientists expect to observe the most changes.
The height measurement of all of those will result from the timing of the individual laser photons on their 600-mile roundtrip situated between the satellite and Earth’s surface, of which the journey may have a timing of within 800 picoseconds, NASA said. More updates will be available soon after the launchSpace Launch Complex-2 (SLC-2)