How laser-firing satellite has ice sheets in its sights
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.
The height of the ice is determined by how long it takes a tiny fraction of these beams to be bounced back and received again by the satellite.
It will enable scientists to garner a better understanding of how the continental ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland and ice on the Arctic Ocean are thinning.
Dr Tom Neumann, deputy project scientist for ICESat-2, said: ‘An elevation change of just a centimetre 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.’