ICESat-2 Will Carry Photon-Counting Lidar

NASA launched the ICESat-2 satellite with the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System – ATLAS in September of this year. The mission is to assess the impact of global warming on the polar ice caps and lidar is the main technology.

picture of ICESat-2 with Atlas

ICESat-2 with Atlas

That is one thing that is on my bucket list – seeing a major rocket launch. That is the ultimate in raw power and acceleration.

Tim Sandle reported the following in the Digital Journal.

The ICESat-2 satellite comes with an Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS). This is a laser measurement apparatus that can assess global ice loss related to climate change. According to NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen: “With this mission we continue humankind’s exploration of the remote polar regions of our planet and advance our understanding of how ongoing changes of Earth’s ice cover at the poles and elsewhere will affect lives around the world, now and in the future.”

The new satellite will provide greater insights because ICESat-2 offers some of the most advanced laser monitoring technology ever deployed, with the system said to be capable of recording measurements within a four-millimeter margin of error. (I wonder if this is the most expensive lidar ever made.)

The application of the satellite goes beyond assessing for ice loss at the Earth’s polar ice caps. The equipment contained within the satellite can also assist scientists with analyzing significant sea level rises in order to understand how these rising levels will affect future civilizations.

NASA will begin publishing results on the National Snow and Ice Data Center web page within a few months. Most of this information will also be made available to the general public.

 

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