Ross? Frosty? Penelope? ICESat-2's penguin mascot needs a name! Help us choose one and give the little blue bird a backstory as well. Details here.
Calling all high school age students: New video contest communicating NASA Earth Science features ICESat-2.
From its new berth beneath the high-flying Proteus aircraft, MABEL - the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar - kicked off a campaign this week along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, measuring the height of tree canopies, buildings and other features with several flights from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
MABEL takes these elevations by pulsing a laser 5,000 times a second. Each pulse contains millions of photons that travel from the aircraft, reflect off Earth's surface and return to the satellite. Only a handful of photons actually make it back to MABEL, but the instrument is sensitive enough to detect single photons. By combining the photon's precisely timed arrival and the instrument's GPS position, programs can calculate the distance the light travelled and the elevation of the surface below.
One of MABEL's goals is to help engineers working on the upcoming ICESat-2 satellite mission test models for that satellite's laser altimeter, said instrument lead scientist Bill Cook. MABEL will also gather data to enable scientists develop algorithms for ICESat-2's measurements of vegetation canopy height and inland water levels.
The test flight on Wednesday and the science flight on Thursday is showing great initial data. The next flight is planned for this evening, September 20, 2013.
On Sept. 5, 2013, ICESat-2 passed its Ground Systems Critical Design Review, or CDR. An independent review board met Sept. 3-5 at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., to examine details of the entire design of the mission's ground system, including the Mission Operations Center, the Instrument Support Facility, and the Science Investigator-led Processing System.
These play key roles in the mission, including receiving data from the satellite and processing it so researchers can measure the height of ice sheets, tree canopies, glaciers and more. With this successful CDR, the ground systems team can start implementing its plans.