A laser in space to measure changes in polar ice

Posted: September 15, 2018 by oldbrew in Measurement, satellites, sea ice
Tags: ,

Screenshot from NASA video

The reporter here is obviously sold on endless warming of planet Earth, but ignoring the propaganda, there are some technical details of the mission which is due to last three years but could be extended up to ten. NASA says: ‘The ICESat-2 laser will pulse 10,000 times a second; each pulse will release about 20 trillion photons. Only about a dozen photons hit Earth’s surface and return to the satellite.’

NASA is poised to launch Saturday its most advanced space laser ever, ICESat-2, a $1 billion dollar mission to reveal the depths of the Earth’s melting ice as the climate warms, says Phys.org.

The half-ton satellite, about the size of a smart-car, is scheduled to blast off atop a Delta II rocket on September 15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The 40-minute launch window opens at 5:46 am local time (1246 GMT).

The mission is “exceptionally important for science,” Richard Slonaker, ICESat-2 program executive at NASA, told reporters ahead of the launch.

That’s because it has been nearly a decade since NASA had a tool in orbit to measure ice sheet surface elevation across the globe.

The preceding mission, ICESat, launched in 2003 and ended in 2009. From it, scientists learned that sea ice was thinning, and ice cover was disappearing from coastal areas in Greenland and Antarctica.

In the intervening nine years, an aircraft mission, called Operation IceBridge, has flown over the Arctic and Antarctic, “taking height measurements and documenting the changing ice,” NASA said.

But an update is urgently needed.
. . .
Advanced lasers

ICESat-2 is equipped with a pair of lasers—one is on board as a back-up—that are far more advanced than the kind aboard the preceding ICESat mission.

Though powerful, the laser will not be hot enough to melt ice from its vantage point some 300 miles (500 kilometers) above the Earth, NASA said.

The new laser will fire 10,000 times in one second, compared to the original ICESat which fired 40 times a second.

The result is a far higher degree of detail, akin to taking 130 images of a single football field, compared to one shot of each goal post.

Measurements will be taken every 2.3 feet (0.7 meters)along the satellite’s path.

“The mission will gather enough data to estimate the annual elevation change in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets even if it’s as slight as four millimeters – the width of a No. 2 pencil,” NASA said in a statement.

Importantly, the laser will measure the slope and height of the ice, not just the area it covers.

Full report here.

  1. ivan says:

    What are they going to do when it doesn’t give the results they expect and want – fudge the results as normal?

  2. oldbrew says:

    Hide the non-decline?

  3. MrGrimNasty says:

    +/-4mm, if that was expressed in the usual GigaTons, it would probably sound hopelessly inaccurate!

    Anyway, all this data is useless until they have several hundred year’s worth to tease out the natural cycles.

  4. Bitter@twisted says:

    If the raw data does not fit the models it will be “homogenised” until it does.

  5. tom0mason says:

    Wow NASA
    “NASA says: ‘The ICESat-2 laser will pulse 10,000 times a second; each pulse will release about 20 trillion photons.”
    With those big numbers am I supposed to be impressed? 🙂
    I suppose it’s less impressive than saying that a moderately powerful laser is pulsed off and on in the kilo-Hertz range.

  6. Richard111 says:

    Umm… won`t all those extra photons help to melt some ice?

  7. oldbrew says:

    Early morning launch closes book on Delta 2 legacy spanning nearly 30 years
    September 15, 2018

    A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket fired away from a California military base and disappeared into an overcast cloud deck Saturday on its final flight, carrying a NASA research satellite into orbit and closing the book on a nearly 30-year legacy of launches.
    . . .
    NASA’s ICESat 2 satellite, kicking off a $1 billion mission using lasers to measure global ice sheet changes from space, deployed from the rocket’s upper stage around 53 minutes after liftoff.


  8. oldbrew says:

    ELFIN to study how electrons get lost
    September 14, 2018

    A new CubeSat mission called The Electron Losses and Fields Investigation, or ELFIN, will study one of the processes that allows energetic electrons to escape the Van Allen Belts and fall into Earth. ELFIN is set to launch from the Vandenburg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 15, 2018.
    . . .
    On launch day, ELFIN will hitch a ride as a secondary payload on a Delta II rocket with NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2 mission. ICESat-2 will measure the thickness of ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice and more to document how Earth’s cryosphere—the frozen water part of the Earth system—is changing over time.

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-09-elfin-electrons-lost.html

  9. nickreality65 says:

    What ice? Wasn’t it all gone five years ago?

    Politics, money, peer pressure and the lying, fact-free, fake news media’s censorship have completely corrupted science. Climate change has turned science/engineering/economics into full time bullshit factories.

    The Radiative Green House Effect theory contains a fatal flaw.

    For RGHE to perform as advertised requires the earth’s surface to radiate upwelling LWIR as an ideal black body, i.e. 1.0 emissivity at 16 C, 289 K, 396 W/m^2. (TFK_bams09)

    The contiguous presence of atmospheric molecules participating in non-radiative heat transfers through conduction, convection, latent renders impossible such BB LWIR, the effective surface emissivity being 0.16, i.e. actual 63 W/m^2 / ideal 396 W/m^2.

    The LWIR upwelling 396 W/m^2 does not exist – the GHG energy loop “warming” the surface and atmosphere does not exist – and the global warming and climate changes that are attributed to carbon dioxide do not exist.

    Three decades of careers, books, papers, research, seminars all go straight in the trash bin and the trillion-dollar climate change industry is instantly unemployed.

    No big deal, just some minor changes.

    Hey, what can you say? It’s SCIENCE!!! Have any yourself? Bring it!
    Nick Schroeder, BSME CU ’78, CO PE 22774

  10. Gamecock says:

    Knowing how much the ice goes up or down, or, rather, which years its up and which years its down, is of no value to anyone but politicians. It’s NOT a science mission; it’s a political mission.

  11. oldbrew says:

    If the sea ice did indeed vanish they would not need lasers to figure it out 😎