Renowned space exploration agency NASA has reportedly announced the launch of its new $1 billion satellite that would give humanity a more detailed insight of ice melting across the globe. Reports claim, the smart-car sized satellite would be using lasers to track and measure the polar ice caps.
Named as the ICESat-2, the satellite would be travelling every 91 days and would be frequently projecting lasers onto the earth’s surface to measure – with an accuracy of within a centimeter – the polar ice caps and track their behavior which would give scientists a precise, data-backed vision regarding their melting rates.
According to a report by The Guardian, ICESat-2 would be replacing the original satellite which has been out of service since 2009. The original satellite reportedly measured 40% loss in the sea ice during its tenure. After 2009, NASA reportedly used airplanes to perform rudimentary measurements of rapidly changing parts of the ice caps.
However, with the new launch NASA is back on track and will enable scientists to study how the ice caps and sea ice are responding to the changes in the ocean and the atmosphere and help them see the big picture of what is and what is not melting the ice in certain regions.
Once the satellite collects sufficient information regarding the height of ice sheets and thickness of sea ice, it would then enable future models to predict future sea level rise scenarios in a better way.
Professor of Glaciology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Prof. Helen Fricker, who also worked on the ICESat-2 with NASA, has reportedly stated that big changes have been witnessed in sea levels as they have begun rising owing to global warming. Fricker further added that the primary goal of the mission is to determine the amount of ice that could be lost and the rate at which it would be lost.
The ICESat-2 was reportedly launched on September 15th and first data samples from the satellite are scheduled to start coming in by mid-October.