Washington.- The National Agency of Aeronautics and Space (NASA) launched today successfully at space the ICESat-2 satellite, which will serve to analyze with high precision the changes in the Earth's polar ice mass.
The satellite took off aboard the Delta 2 rocket from the base area of Vandenberg (California) at 6.02 local time (13.02 GMT).
"Fly free! Confirmed the separation of the satellite from launch rocket", said the space agency in his Twitter account minutes after the launch.
He ICESat-2 will measure the annual average elevation change of the ice cap terrestrial covering Greenland and Antarctica, capturing 60,000 measurements per second.
The objective is to "expand and improve" the investigation of NASA 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 ship space to Earth and vice versa, "NASA said.
ATLAS will shoot 10,000 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 Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets has raised the global sea level by more than one millimeter per year, accounting for about one third of the observed rise in sea level, and the rate "is increasing ", according to POT.
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.
So far, the POT has routinely measured the area covered by sea ice and has observed a decline in that type of surface in the Arctic of around 40 percent since 1980.