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European Scientists Finally Ready to Launch Ice Measuring Satellite

Posted By Brit Liggett On April 8, 2010 @ 10:00 am In Environment,global warming,green gadgets,Innovation | No Comments

satellite, european, union. cryosat 2, cryosat, measuring ice, ice melting, global warming, climate change, rising water levels, glaciers [1]

A team of European scientists are finally ready to launch Cryosat-2, a satellite [2] that once in orbit [3] will measure the extent and thickness of the ice at the Earth’s poles [4] in unprecedented detail. The satellite’s older sibling was launched in 2005 and crashed before making it into orbit. The team — part of the European Space Agency [5] — has high hopes for round two. If successful the data returned could be essential in measuring the effect of climate change [6] on our ice caps.

The satellite [7] was engineered mostly by a team of scientists from the UK and built mostly by France [8] and Germany. It will launch with the help of a ballistic missile from Kazakhstan. Once in the air it will begin measuring the ice on the Earth’s poles with its high intensity radar. Unlike previous satellites Cryosat-2 is outfitted with two radar antennas — older satellites only have one — that are set one meter apart. The two antennas will allow scientists to take more accurate measurements of ice thickness [9].

Previously scientists have been able to correctly measure the extent of the ice [10] at the poles and the amount of land it covers. However, measuring the thickness of the ice is a different issue. Not knowing the thickness of ice sheets [11] can lead to huge understatements [12] — or overstatements — of how much ice really exists. As we all know, a lot of glaciers are located under water. The accurate measurements that Cryosat-2 will return to the ESA will be used to predict how quickly the ice is melting and what possible currents and rising waters [13] can be expected as a result.

Via The BBC [14]

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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/european-scientists-finally-ready-to-launch-ice-measuring-satellite/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://inhabitat.com/?attachment_id=103354

[2] a satellite: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/11/10/solar-sailing-satellite-to-thumb-a-ride-from-the-sun-in-2010/

[3] in orbit: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/12/14/nasa-launches-solar-powered-asteroid-detecting-telescope/

[4] ice at the Earth’s poles: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/03/05/are-arctic-farts-accelerating-global-warming/

[5] European Space Agency: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/11/02/satellite-makes-near-real-time-predictions-of-floods-and-droughts/

[6] climate change: http://www.inhabitat.com/global-warming/

[7] satellite: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/03/04/nasa-to-launch-new-weather-satellite-in-space/

[8] France: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/03/29/incredible-pompidou-metz-art-museum-rises-in-france/

[9] ice thickness: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/24/ice-records-play-the-songs-of-melting-glaciers/

[10] ice: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/08/29/ice-sculptures-mark-100-days-until-copenhagen-climate-summit/

[11] ice sheets: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/10/10/antarctic-icebergs-make-their-own-art/

[12] understatements: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/03/31/independent-uk-panel-says-that-parts-of-climategate-are-an-illusion/

[13] currents and rising waters: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/03/24/new-tsunami-generator-can-help-designers-create-wave-proof-buildings/

[14] The BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8606303.stm

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