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ICESat in orbit around Earth.
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Image courtesy NASA

ICESat launch
News story originally written on January 17, 2003

NASA launched a new satellite on January 12, 2003. The new satellite is called ICESat for short. ICESat's long name is the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation satellite. ICESat will measure the thickness of ice near the North Pole and over the South Pole using a laser.

Many scientists think the Earth is getting warmer. If it is, ice near the North and South Poles will probably start to melt. Scientists want to measure how much ice is melting - that is ICESat's job! If the ice near the poles is melting, the sea level of oceans around the world will go up, and there will be floods in many places near the oceans. That is why it is important for ICESat to measure the thickness of the ice.

The rocket that carried ICESat into space also had another satellite on it. That satellite is called CHIPS. CHIPS is about the size of a large suitcase. CHIPS will study dust and gas in space.


Last modified January 17, 2003 by Randy Russell.

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