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ICESat-2: Mission Overview

ICESat-2: Mission Overview

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Image illustrating AMSR-E sea ice courtesy of the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio.

Why Study Ice?

Understanding the causes and magnitudes of changes in the cryosphere remains a priority for Earth science research. NASA's Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) mission, which operated from 2003 to 2009, pioneered the use of laser altimeters in space to study the elevation of the Earth's surface and its changes.

Why we need ICESat-2

As a result of ICESat's success, the National Research Council's (NRC) 2007 Earth Science Decadal Survey recommended a follow-on mission to continue the ICESat observations. In response, NASA tasked its Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) with developing and deploying the ICESat-2 mission - now scheduled for launch in 2018. The primary goals of the ICESat-2 mission are consistent with the NRC's directives: to deploy a spaceborne sensor to collect altimetry data of the Earth's surface optimized to measure ice sheet elevation change and sea ice thickness, while also generating an estimate of global vegetation biomass.

ICESat-2, slated for launch in 2018, will continue the important observations of ice-sheet elevation change, sea-ice freeboard, and vegetation canopy height begun by ICESat in 2003. Together, these datasets will allow for continent-wide estimates in the change in volume of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets over a 15-year period, and long-term trend analysis of sea-ice thickness.

Mission Requirements

Level-1 Requirements and Mission Success Criteria

Applications News

 Submission deadline for the 5th call of Early Adopters is February 29, 2016. Read more here.

 Join us for the ICESat-2 Inland Water Focus Session on November 18, 2015. Read more here.

 Join us at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. Read more here.

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