NASA launched its ‘Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2’ or ICESat-2 on September 15. The satellite will track Earth’s melting poles and disappearing sea ice according to NASA. ICESat-2 is the NASA’s most advance laser instrument — the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System, or ATLAS.
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Lifting off at 9:02am ET Saturday atop a @ULALaunch #DeltaII rocket, @NASA_ICE's #ICESat2 is safely on orbit and ready to embark on its mission to measure the ice of Earth’s frozen reaches with unprecedented accuracy. Learn more: https://t.co/wbdhliMBZK pic.twitter.com/U8nEfXow2a— NASA (@NASA) September 15, 2018
The satellite will provide critical observations of how ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice are changing, leading to insights into how those changes impact people where they live, NASA said. ICESat-2’s orbit will make 1,387 unique ground tracks around Earth in 91 days and then start the same ground pattern again at the beginning.
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The ICESat-2 will zoom above the planet at 7 km per second (4.3 miles per second), completing an orbit around Earth in 90 minutes. The orbits have been set to converge at the 88-degree latitude lines around the poles, to focus the data coverage in the region where scientists expect to see the most changes.
ICESat-2 is meant to last three years but has enough fuel to continue for over a decade, if mission directors decide to extend its life.