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The Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 will measure the height of Earth from space, creating a record of the planet’s elevation in unprecedented detail and precision. With high-resolution data from ICESat-2’s laser altimeter, scientists will track changes to Earth’s polar ice caps – regions that are a harbinger of warming temperatures worldwide. The mission will also take stock of forests, map ocean surfaces, track the rise of cities and measure everything in between. ICESat-2 continues key elevation observations begun by ICESat-1 (2003 to 2009) and Operation IceBridge (2009 through present), to provide a portrait of change in the beginning of the 21st century.
For more information, please visit the ICESat-2 website.
Raw Media for Broadcast
HD broadcast-quality footage of the ICESat-2 spacecraft and ATLAS instrument.
Dolly shots of the ATLAS instrument inside the cleanroom. || Footage of ATLAS arrival, spacecraft integration and door deployment at Orbital ATK in Gilbert, Arizona. || The truck and transporter leave Goddard Space Flight Center early in the morning. || The ATLAS instrument is loaded from the SCA onto the transporter. || Footage of door being secured before shipment of the ATLAS instrument. || Footage of the ATLAS instrument being lifted out of the thermal vacuum chamber. || Footage of ATLAS entering its shipping container in preparation for travel to Orbital ATK. ||
Animation showing how ICESat-2 will measure the height of sea ice freeboard (hf) – the portion of sea ice floating above the water – to estimate sea ice thickness (hi). || ICESat-2 will measure heights or elevations. In order to derive sea ice thickness from those measurements, it will compare the height of the ice with the height of the adjacent open water. The difference is height is the portion of the ice that is above the sea level, called freeboard. Because roughly 1/10 of the ice floe is above water we can calculate its thickness. Very often the only open water nearby is from cracks in the ice (leads) that open and close quickly as the ice drifts about in the polar oceans pushed by ocean currents and winds. ||
Animation with info key. || The ATLAS lidar on ICESat-2 uses 6 laser beams to measure the earth’s elevation and elevation change. By arranging the beams in three pairs of two, scientists can also determine the slope between the two beams, a key component of determining elevation change along the Reference Ground Track. Each time ATLAS collects data along a particular track, onboard software aims the laser beams so that the Reference Ground Track is always between the two beams, as shown in the animation. This allows scientists to combine the elevation and slope information from two different passes to determine elevation change along the Reference Ground Track. ||
Side view of the beam pairs. || The ATLAS lidar on ICESat-2 uses 6 laser beams to measure the earth’s elevation and elevation change. By arranging the beams in three pairs of two, scientists can also determine the slope between the two beams, a key component of determining elevation change along the Reference Ground Track. Each time ATLAS collects data along a particular track, onboard software aims the laser beams so that the Reference Ground Track is always between the two beams, as shown in the animation. This allows scientists to combine the elevation and slope information from two different passes to determine elevation change along the Reference Ground Track. ||
Animation showing the deployment of the spacecraft and a beauty pass with the beams on. || The Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, is a laser altimeter that will measure the heights of Earth’s surfaces. With ICESat-2’s high-resolution data, scientists will track changes to Earth’s ice-covered poles, which is witnessing dramatic temperature increases. The mission will also take stock of forests, map ocean surfaces, characterize clouds and more.ICESat-2 carries a single instrument called the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS), equipped with a multiple-beam laser, which sends 10,000 pulses of light to the ground each second. A small fraction of the light photons bounce off Earth’s surface and return to the instrument, where a photon-counting detector times their flight. Knowing this time, and the satellite’s position and orientation in space, scientists can calculate Earth’s elevation below.ICESat-2 continues key elevation observations begun by the original ICESat satellite (2003 to 2009) and Operation IceBridge (2009 through present), to provide a portrait of change in the beginning of the 21st century. ||
This is a conceptual animation showing how polar ice reflects light from the sun. As this ice begins to melt, less sunlight gets reflected into space. It is instead absorbed into the oceans and land, raising the overall temperature, and fueling further melting. || This is the high definition version of the Ice Albedo-Global animation MPEG. || This is a high resolution print still that illustrates the least warming condition. || This is a high resolution print still that illustrates a greater warming condition. ||
This animation provides a close perspective of the relationship between ice and solar reflectivity. As glaciers, the polar caps, and icebergs (shown here) melt, less sunlight gets reflected into space. Instead, the oceans and land absorb the light, thus raising the overall temperature and adding energy to a vicious circle. || This is the standard definition version MPEG of the Ice Albedo(clean ice case) Animation. ||
L-30 Science Briefing Graphics
Next month, NASA will launch into space the most advanced laser instrument of its kind, beginning a mission to measure – in unprecedented detail – changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice.NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.“ICESat-2’s new observational technologies will advance our knowledge of how the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contribute to sea level rise while also helping us understand the connection of sea ice loss to the global system,” said Thomas Wagner, cryosphere program scientist in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.ICESat-2 will extend and improve upon NASA's 15-year record of monitoring the change in polar ice heights, which started in 2003 with the first ICESat mission and continued in 2009 with NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne research campaign that monitors the accelerating rate of change.ICESat-2 represents a major technological leap in our ability to measure changes in ice height. Its Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 22, to discuss the upcoming launch of the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat-2), which will fly NASA's most advanced laser altimeter to measure Earth’s changing ice. The teleconference will stream live on NASA's website.ICESat-2 is scheduled to launch Sept. 15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base.The briefing participants are: • Tom Wagner, cryosphere program scientist in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters • Richard Slonaker, ICESat-2 program executive in SMD • Doug McLennan, ICESat-2 project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center • Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) instrument project manager at Goddard • Tom Neumann, ICESat-2 deputy project scientist at GoddardFor more information:Media AdvisoryICESat-2 Video Resources ||