Cryosat, an altimeter over ice

Image of the month - October 2005

(Credits Esa)

The European Space Agency (ESA) satellite Cryosat will be launch on October 8, 2005 from the Russian site of Plestesk, on an orbit reaching up to 88°N and S and an altitude of 717 km. Payload consist in an altimeter-interferometer, Siral (SAR Interferometric Radar Altimeter), as well as a Doris instrument and a Laser retroflector, for precise orbit measurement.
Siral has a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mode, to measure ice topography (ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice) and its variations with a 250-m resolution, and a SAR-interferometric mode, that also allows to measure slopes with precision. These two modes will be used especially on the fringes of the Antartic and Greenland sheets, where ice is the most fragile (since this is where ice flows ; see Image of the Month, April 2000: Rivers of ice in Antarctica)
Even if Cryosat is dedicated to ice observation, it will also be able to observe the oceans and solid land

See also:

  • Applications: Ice
  • Missions: Cryosat

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