Satel­lite launched to mea­sure ice changes

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - NATION & WORLD - By As­so­ci­ated Press

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CALIF. — A NASA satel­lite de­signed to pre­cisely mea­sure changes in Earth’s ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice and veg­e­ta­tion was launched into po­lar or­bit from Cal­i­for­nia early Satur­day.

A Delta 2 rocket car­ry­ing ICESat-2 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 6:02 a.m. and headed over the Pa­cific Ocean.

NASA Earth Sci­ence Divi­sion di­rec­tor Michael Freilich says that the mis­sion in par­tic­u­lar will ad­vance knowl­edge of how the ice sheets of Green­land and Antarc­tica con­trib­ute to sea level rise.

The melt from those ice sheets alone has raised global sea level by more than 1 mil­lime­ter (0.04 inch) a year re­cently, ac­cord­ing to NASA.

The mis­sion is a suc­ces­sor to the orig­i­nal Ice, Cloud and Land El­e­va­tion Satel­lite that op­er­ated from 2003 to 2009.

Built by Northrop Grum­man, ICESat-2’s laser al­time­ter that mea­sures height by de­ter­min­ing how long it takes pho­tons to travel from the space­craft to Earth and back.

The launch was the last for a Delta 2 rocket, United Launch Al­liance said.

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