Monday, August 30, 2010

Successful Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Mission

orbiting sentinels is expected to return to Earth in a few days. The agency's Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation (ICESat) satellite completed a very productive scientific mission earlier this year. NASA lowered the satellite's orbit last month and then decommissioned the spacecraft in preparation for re-entry. It is estimated that the satellite will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and largely burn up on or about August 29.

ICESat's lasting legacy will be its impact on the understanding of ice sheet and sea ice dynamics. The mission has led to scientific advances in measuring changes in the mass of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, polar sea ice thickness, vegetation-canopy heights, and the heights of clouds and aerosols. Using ICESat data, scientists identified a network of lakes beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. ICESat introduced new capabilities, technology and methods such as the measurement of sea ice freeboard – or the amount of ice and snow that protrudes above the ocean surface - for estimating sea ice thickness.

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