Nasa launches laser satellite to measure Earth's global ice loss

Final Delta 2 rocket launches $1 billion ice probe

United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today that the last Delta II rocket will join a lineup of historic rockets in the Rocket Garden on display at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2), which launched Saturday from NASA's base in California, will be able to measure the height of features on Earth, helping scientists to track patterns such as melting glaciers.

The legendary Delta II rocket has more than 154 successful flights under its belt and has ferried into space a host of reputed spacecraft, including NASA's Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, the Phoenix Mars Lander, and an entire constellation of Global Positioning System satellites for the U.S. Air Force, states the ULA website.

Over the course of its career, Delta II has managed an impressive ~99% success rate, launching dozens of successful scientific missions to explore asteroids, comets, the Moon, the sun, exoplanets, Mars, and more. ICESat-2 is the NASA's most advance laser instrument - the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System, or ATLAS.

An artist's depiction of the ICESat-2 satellite at work studying Earth's ice sheets.

The Delta 2's RS-27A main engine burst to life at 6:02 a.m.

ICESat-2 will measure the height of our changing Earth, one laser pulse at a time, 10,000 laser pulses per second.




Launch was delayed 16 minutes by a minor technical glitch, but the final moments of the countdown went smoothly and the slender rocket quickly vaulted away from its firing stand at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., arcing away to the south over the Pacific Ocean.

Dr Tom Neumann, deputy project scientist for the new satellite, said it would provide "a phenomenal picture" of changes in the planet's ice sheets and water.

"Set your alarm to see lift-off - no earlier than 8:46am ET", NASA tweeted a few hours ago.

The laser on the satellite fires 10,000 times a second while travelling at a speed of 7km (4.3 miles) a second, from a height of 300 miles (482km). We can use the two-way travel time of that laser pulse to accurately and precisely get a sense of the height of the surface of the earth.

ICESat-2 suffered delays because of problems with ATLAS, notably a failure of one of its lasers. These measurements will be taken approximately every 2.3 feet along the path of the satellite.

After ICESat-2's deployment, four student-built satellites were released into orbit from the rocket's second stage. "Space weather research is also crucial for space tourism and space exploration".

Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Trump imposes tariffs on $200 billion Chinese goods, spares some consumer products
Sep 18, 2018 - 11:15
Trump continues to ratchet up pressure on Beijing to change its trade practices even as he floats the idea of talks. China had issued a list of another $60 billion of USA goods for retaliation if the US proceeds with more tariffs.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Cousins’ comeback falls short, Vikings and Packers tie
Sep 17, 2018 - 17:12
It won't be a surprise if Cook gets held out of Minnesota practices ahead of Week 3's showdown with the Buffalo Bills at home. The rookie's final attempt went to the right of the uprights, just like his kick from 49 earlier in overtime.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Carolinas' crisis escalates as Florence shows its fiercest face
Sep 17, 2018 - 17:06
Across North Carolina, 26,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters after escaping their homes in advance of the flood waters. Mayor Dana Outlaw said the city, hit by a three-meter storm surge at the height of the storm on Friday, has 4,200 damaged homes.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Juventus 2-1 Sassuolo: Cristiano Ronaldo scores first Serie A goals
Sep 17, 2018 - 17:04
Video of the incident stunned football fans and pundits, and sparked an angry reaction from Costa's manager, Massimiliano Allegri. But Ronaldo finally got off the mark after almost 320 minutes of league action during the Bianconeri's 2-1 win against Sassuolo.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Kavanaugh accuser willing to testify, her lawyer says
Sep 17, 2018 - 16:56
Ford also told the Post the event likely contributed to the now-51-year-old's anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Grassley's office says it will proceed with the planned Judiciary committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination next week.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Brett Kavanaugh accuser speaks about alleged sexual misconduct
Sep 17, 2018 - 15:43
Katz said on Monday that her client considers Kavanaugh's alleged actions an attempted rape. "It has always been Mrs. Ford told the Post she chose to come forward after watching portions of her story come out without her permission.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Pope Francis summons bishops from all over world for sex abuse summit
Sep 16, 2018 - 01:07
The announcement of the Bransfield resignation and investigation followed Francis' meeting with leaders of the U.S. He says a review is warranted "to determine how best we can protect West Virginians who might have been victims".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Hurricane Florence: First Deaths Reported in North Carolina
Sep 16, 2018 - 00:33
Almost 200 people have already been rescued, according to Colleen Roberts, a city public information officer, Fox News reported . About 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did, officials said.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri struggling to give up smoking
Sep 15, 2018 - 23:47
He has said : "I'm not sure when I am going to play". "I'm undecided, but enjoying my time to really concentrate on my badges". Chelsea host promoted side Cardiff next on Saturday (3pm) at Stamford Bridge.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Tottenham goalkeeper Lloris fined for drunk driving
Sep 15, 2018 - 23:18
Hugo Lloris has been banned from driving for 20 months and fined £50,000 after pleading guilty to drink-driving. Pochettino said that Lloris has beaten himself up over his mistake but deserved a second chance.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum: 'I held talks with Tottenham Hotspur'
Sep 15, 2018 - 17:34
Premier League - Follow the Football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool live with Eurosport. Klopp said: "How would that work?" So, I had to battle to get my place back in the team.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top China and Russia to conduct regular war games together, says Russian minister
Sep 14, 2018 - 23:29
As the manoeuvres kicked off, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russian Federation to attend an economic forum in Vladivostok. Big Russia-China war games are apparently going to be routine going forward, the Russian defence minister revealed Wednesday.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Pochettino vs. Klopp a battle of Premier League's brightest minds
Sep 14, 2018 - 23:28
How do you prepare a game and not focus on it? He feels that the club's summer signings will have been sold on the idea of turning out for Liverpool in the Champions League.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Russia: Xi, Putin Meet at Eastern Economic Forum
Sep 14, 2018 - 23:27
Abe and his officials may have not been pleased - the Japanese were "dealt a setback" because of Putin's delayed arrival, according to reports.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top SpaceX Says Passenger Booked to Circle Moon on Big Falcon Rocket
Sep 14, 2018 - 22:36
In 2009, space tourist Guy Laliberté flew to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz TMA-16, leaving from Kazakhstan. Boeing is also hard at work on its crew vehicle, with pioneering flights planned for 2019 as well.