This article discusses NASA’s latest attempts to track the thickness of ice in the polar regions. The Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite can measure changes in ice thickness to within half a centimeter.
NASA is set to launch its most advanced global ice-monitoring satellite, which has been in the works for nearly a decade.
The agency plans to send the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) into space on 15 September atop a Delta 2 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It will focus on measuring changes in ice thickness in places including Greenland and Antarctica, but it will also collect data on forest growth and cloud height.
The satellite is designed to track seasonal and annual changes in ice thickness to within half a centimeter — a resolution greater than any previous elevation-monitoring satellite. The US$1-billion spacecraft will orbit 500 kilometers above Earth’s surface, and cover the globe every three months for the next three years.