ESA to Launch Ice-monitoring Satellite

PARIS, Feb. 11 (UPI) — The European Space Agency says its CryoSat-2 satellite has been sealed in its rocket in preparation for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The ESA said the mission — scheduled for launch Feb. 25 at 8:57 a.m. EST — will be dedicated to the precise monitoring of the variations in the thickness of both floating ice in the polar oceans and the ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica.

“With the effects of a changing climate fast becoming apparent, particularly in the polar regions, this information is urgently needed to further our understanding of the complex interactions between ice and climate,” the ESA said.

One issue during the launch preparations occurred when a piece of material from the satellite’s X-band science-data transmission antenna was found to have broken off during transport. ESA officials called upon a local surgeon equipped with an endoscope to resolve the problem.

The space agency said the satellite and its rocket will be moved to the launch pad next week, where it will be integrated onto the rest of the launcher.

CryoSat-1 was destroyed during its October 2005 launch when the second stage engine of its rocket malfunctioned.

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