NASA launches satellite to measure the melting of the poles

NASA launches satellite to measure the melting of the poles

Agency
UNITED STATES.- The National Aeronautics and Space Agency of the United States (NASA) successfully launched the ICESat-2 satellite today, which will serve to analyze with high precision the changes in the mass of the polar ice of the Earth.

The satellite took off aboard the Delta 2 rocket from the base area of ​​Vandenberg (California) at 6.02 local time (13.02 GMT).

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Fly free! Confirmed the satellite separation of the launch rocket, "the space agency said in its Twitter account minutes after the launch.

The ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of the land ice sheet covering Greenland and Antarctica, capturing 60 thousand measurements per second.

The goal is to "expand and improve" NASA's research of the last 15 years on the change of polar ice, which began in 2003 with the first mission of ICESat and continued in 2009 with Operation Ice Bridge.

ICESat-2 represents a major technological leap in our ability to measure changes in ice height: its advanced topographic laser altimeter (ATLAS) system measures height based on the time it takes for individual photons of light to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and vice versa, "NASA said.

ATLAS will shoot 10 thousand times per second, sending hundreds of trillions of photons to the polar surface.

Thanks to this, ICESat-2 will obtain a "much more detailed" view of the surface of the ice than its predecessor, ICESat.

As the Earth moves from pole to pole, the new satellite will calculate the ice heights along the same itinerary in the polar regions four times a year, providing seasonal and annual control of changes in the surface.

In recent years, the melting of the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica has raised the global level of the sea by more than one millimeter per year, representing approximately one third of the observed increase in sea level, and the rate "is increasing," according to NASA.

The goal of the US agency is for the ICESat-2 data to help researchers reduce the range of uncertainty in the predictions of future sea level rise and connect those changes to climatic factors.

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