Feeds

ESA preps polar research sat

Cryosat to probe effects of global warming

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Europe is preparing to launch a satellite designed to test the prediction that climate change is causing the ice at the poles to thin.

Cryosat, which is slated to launch on 8 October, will spend three years in orbit, studying the polar caps, the BBC reports. The data it gathers should help scientists better understand how global warming will affect the planet's ice cover and sea levels.

The satellite will blast off from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome, aboard an cold war relic: a modified intercontinental ballistic missile called Rockot, which is a SS-19 two-stage rocket fitted with a Breeze-KM third stage that will put the payload in its final orbit. The SS-19, which NATA called Stiletto, was first built two decades ago to serve as a weapon of nuclear war. You can read more about it here.

Once in orbit, the satellite will spend six months in a commissioning phase. Once it goes live, its radar altimeter will begin its survey of the floating sea ice at the poles. By measuring the height of the ice, and knowing its density, scientists will be able to calculate its mass.

The European SPace Agency already has two satellites (ERS-1 and ERS-2) looking at the arctic and antarctic ice sheets. However, the coverage they provide is limited, and doesn't extend to the outer edges of the ice sheets.

Researchers say that ERS-1 and 2 have proven the methods that Cryosat will employ do actually work. In combination with NASA's Icesat mission - which is measuring the land-based ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland using a laser altimeter - the Cryosat data should give researchers the clearest picture yet of changes to polar ice cover. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.