Laser-firing satellite targets ice sheets
A SATELLITE that measures the Earth’s ice in more detail than ever before was launched by Nasa yesterday.
The ICESat-2 satellite has been designed to give scientists the best idea yet of how ice caps are changing.
The satellite can measure the height of ice to an accuracy of just one fifth of an inch using laser beams fired 10,000 times a second.
Dr Tom Neumann, deputy project scientist for ICESat-2, said accurate recordings of ice height were essential to calculating whether – and how fast – the Earth’s ice sheets are melting.
He said: ‘An elevation change of just a centimetre (0.4 inch) over an ice sheet the scale of Antarctica represents a tremendous amount of water either gained to or lost by the ice sheet – 140 gigatons worth.’
The ICESat-2 satellite was launched on a rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.