ESA's CryoSat-2 Begins Transmitting Data

PARIS, April 13 (UPI) — The European Space Agency says its recently launched CryoSat-2 satellite has delivered its first radar data.

The satellite, launched last Thursday, is Europe’s first mission dedicated to studying variations in the Earth’s ice cover from a polar orbit.

The ESA said the satellite’s orbit brings it closer to the poles than earlier Earth observation satellites, covering an additional 2.8 million square miles — an area larger than all 27 European Union member states put together.

CryoSat-2′s instruments will measure changes at the margins of the vast ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica and marine ice floating in the polar oceans, ESA scientists said. By accurately measuring thickness change in both types of ice, they said CryoSat-2 will provide information critical to science’s understanding of the role ice plays in the Earth system.

CryoSat-2 is the third of the ESA’s Earth Explorer satellites to be placed into orbit. It follows the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission, launched in March 2009, and the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, launched last November.

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