NASA launching laser satellite to study Earth’s changing ice
What in news:
ü The Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) satellite is scheduled to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on September 15.
ü NASA is launching a laser-armed satellite next month that will measure — in unprecedented detail — changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice to understand what is causing ice sheets to melt fast.
Reason to launch:
ü In recent years, contributions of melt from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica alone have raised global sea level by more than a millimeter a year, accounting for approximately one-third of observed sea level rise, and the rate is increasing.
ü Called the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), the mission is scheduled to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on September 15.
ü ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second
ü ICESat-2 will improve upon NASA’s 15-year record of monitoring the change in polar ice heights. It started in 2003 with the first ICESat mission and continued in 2009 with NASA’s Operation
ü IceBridge, an airborne research campaign that kept track of the accelerating rate of change.
ü ICESat-2’s Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.
ü ATLAS will fire 10,000 times each second, sending hundreds of trillions of photons to the ground in six beams of green light.
ü With so many photons returning from multiple beams, ICESat-2 will get a much more detailed view of the ice surface than its predecessor.
ü As it circles Earth from pole to pole, ICESat-2 will measure ice heights along the same path in the polar regions four times a year, providing seasonal and annual monitoring of ice elevation changes.
ü Beyond the poles, ICESat-2 will also measure the height of ocean and land surfaces, including forests.
Expected prelims question:
Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) developed by
ANS - b
Expected mains question: