Cryosat Mission Took Detailed Data of Polar Ice Caps


The ESA’s Cryosat mission has been watching the Arctic sea ice with a high degree of precision ever since it was launched in 2010 to monitor the changes in thickness and shape of polar ice. It’s taken two years for scientists to tackle the amount of data that Cryosat generated.

They reported an unprecedented view of the seasonal growth and retreat of sea ice spanning the entire Arctic basin. They also released a map showing the difference in height across the Greenland ice sheet.

Several other satellites have already detailed the rapid erosion of summer sea ice since the Arctic has warmed, but Cryosat provides a means to get a figure for the ice volume, which is far more significant to allow scientists to understand the long-term viability of the ice.

Cryosat carries one of the highest resolution synthetic aperture radars ever put into orbit. The radar sends down pulses of microwave energy that bounce off both the top of the ice and the water in the cracks, which separate the floes. By measuring the difference in height between these two surfaces, it’s easily possible to get an accurate approximation of the volume of the marine cover.

The new data shows an entire seasonal cycle for the Arctic ice, spanning from October 2010 to March 2011, and approximates the total volume of sea ice in the central Arctic at 14,500 cubic kilometers.


View Comments


Recent Posts

Staring Into Hurricane Ian’s Eye: NASA Scientists Are Analyzing the Forces That Made the Storm So Catastrophic

NASA scientists are studying the latest satellite imagery of Hurricane Ian and analyzing the forces…

September 30, 2022

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Captures Closest View of Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa in 22 Years

Observations from the Juno spacecraft’s close pass of the icy moon provided the first close-up…

September 30, 2022

Russian Cosmonauts Undock From Space Station and Return to Earth

Yesterday, September 29, the Soyuz spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) at 3:34…

September 30, 2022

Ancestral Heritage and Cancer: New Connection Discovered

The study also identified a new prostate cancer taxonomy. Two groundbreaking studies recently published in the…

September 30, 2022

Scientists Discover the Secret to Making Food Seem Tastier

How does color impact how you perceive food? According to recent research, a restaurant may…

September 30, 2022

Celebrate “International Observe the Moon Night 2022” With NASA

NASA invites the public to participate in the celebration of "International Observe the Moon Night"…

September 30, 2022