Thursday February 21, 2019
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NASA will Launch A Laser Satellite That Will Record The Change in Height Of Polar Ice

Beyond the poles, ICESat-2 will also measure the height of ocean and land surfaces, including forests.

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

NASA is launching a laser-armed satellite next month that will measure — in unprecedented detail — changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice to understand what is causing ice sheets to melt fast.

In recent years, contributions of melt from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica alone have raised global sea level by more than a millimetre a year, accounting for approximately one-third of observed sea level rise, and the rate is increasing.

Called the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), the mission is scheduled to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on September 15, NASA said in a statement late on Thursday.

ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.

“The new observational technologies of ICESat-2 will advance our knowledge of how the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contribute to sea level rise,” said Michael Freilich, Director of the Earth Science Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

NASA, Polar Ice
ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica. Flickr

ICESat-2 will improve upon NASA’s 15-year record of monitoring the change in polar ice heights.

It started in 2003 with the first ICESat mission and continued in 2009 with NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne research campaign that kept track of the accelerating rate of change.

ICESat-2’s Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.

“ATLAS required us to develop new technologies to get the measurements needed by scientists to advance the research,” said Doug McLennan, ICESat-2 Project Manager.

“That meant we had to engineer a satellite instrument that not only will collect incredibly precise data, but also will collect more than 250 times as many height measurements as its predecessor,” he added.

NASA
IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice ever flown. Flickr

 

ATLAS will fire 10,000 times each second, sending hundreds of trillions of photons to the ground in six beams of green light.

With so many photons returning from multiple beams, ICESat-2 will get a much more detailed view of the ice surface than its predecessor.

Also Read: SpaceX Launches Communications Satellite

As it circles Earth from pole to pole, ICESat-2 will measure ice heights along the same path in the polar regions four times a year, providing seasonal and annual monitoring of ice elevation changes.

Beyond the poles, ICESat-2 will also measure the height of ocean and land surfaces, including forests. (IANS)

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ISRO New Rocket ‘SSLV’ to Carry Two Defence Satellites

The Indian space agency will fly two small defence satellites in July/August on its new rocket --now known as Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

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credit: static.dnaindia.com

The Indian space agency will fly two small defence satellites in July/August on its new rocket –now known as Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) – said a top official of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

“We are planning to fly two defence satellites, each weighing about 120 kg in our new rocket SSLV this July or August. The rocket design recently underwent a detailed integrated technical review,” K. Sivan, ISRO Chairman, told IANS on Wednesday.

He said the total weight of the payload that will be carried by the SSLV on its maiden flight will be about 500 kg. While the two satellites would weight about 120 kg each, there will be adaptors and others that would weigh about 300 kg.

The total weight of the rocket will be 110 tonne, Sivan said.

ISRO, Satellite, SSLV
The total weight of the rocket will be 110 tonne, Sivan said. Flickr

Queried about the need for a second commercial arm – first one is Antrix Corporation – Sivan said: “We want to give a big push for production of SSLV. We expect the demand for SSLV to be about two/three rockets per month. We also want to increase the production of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).”

Sivan said the increase in production is sought to be achieved partnering with the private sector.

He said Antrix Corporation is mainly into transponder leasing and other activities.

On Tuesday, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval for setting up of a new company under the Department of Space (DoS), to commercially exploit the research and development work carried out by ISRO and its constituent units.

The following areas/avenues provide opportunities for commercial exploitation of ISRO programmes:

Small satellite technology transfer to industry, wherein the new company shall take licence from DoS/ISRO and sub-license to industries; manufacture of small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV) in collaboration with the private sector.

ISRO, SSLV, Satellite
He said the total weight of the payload that will be carried by the SSLV on its maiden flight will be about 500 kg. Flickr

Besides, productionisation of PSLV through industry; productionisation and marketing of space-based products and services, including launch and applications; transfer of technology developed by ISRO Centres and constituent units of DoS.

Also marketing of some spin-off technologies and products, both in India and abroad; and any other subject which Government of India deems fit.

ALSO READ: A Simple Breakfast Toast Can Cause Air Pollution

When asked about the technologies that the ISRO can transfer, Sivan said: “We have developed technologies in materials, chemicals and others. These can be transferred so that people can benefit.”

Sivan said the capital for the proposed company will not be large and its name is yet to be finalised. (IANS)