Artist's impression of ICESat orbiting Earth.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy NASA
News story originally written on January 17, 2003
NASA launched the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation satellite (ICESat) on January
ICESat will use a laser to measure the height of the ice sheets that cover Greenland
and Antarctica. These measurements will help scientists learn whether the ice
sheets are shrinking, growing, or staying the same size. Knowing about changes
in the ice sheets can help us understand changes in Earth's climate, including
possible changes in sea level caused by global warming.
ICESat was launched from California aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket.
The satellite will orbit Earth about 600 kilometers (373 miles)
up in a polar orbit that will carry it over both the North and South Poles.
The Delta II rocket also carried a second, smaller satellite called CHIPS which will study dust and gas in space.
CHIPS is about the size of a large suitcase.
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