Thursday, June 24, 2010

ICESat-2 Objectives and Design

The Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat 2) is the 2nd-generation of the orbiting laser altimeter ICESat scheduled for launch in late 2015.

ICESat-2 Science Objectives

* Quantifying polar ice-sheet contributions to current and recent sea-level change and the linkages to climate conditions.
* Quantifying regional signatures of ice-sheet changes to assess mechanisms driving those changes and improve predictive ice sheet models.
* Estimating sea-ice thickness to examine ice/ocean/atmosphere exchanges of energy, mass and moisture.
* Measuring vegetation canopy height as a basis for estimating large-scale biomass and biomass change.
* Enhancing the utility of other Earth observation systems through supporting measurements.

ICESat-2 Design

In contrast to the ICESat design, ICESat-2 will use a micro-pulse multi-beam approach. This provides dense cross-track sampling to resolve surface slope on an orbit basis.

The sensor will have a high pulse repetition rate of 10 kHz (exact number still TBD) which generates dense along-track sampling of about 70 cm.

This concept has advantages over ICESat of improved elevation estimates over high slope areas and very rough (e.g. crevassed) areas and improved lead detection for sea ice freeboard estimates.

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