ESA's CyroSat-2 is Successfully Launched

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan, April 8 (UPI) — The European Space Agency’s CyroSat-2 satellite was launched at 9:57 a.m. EDT Thursday from an underground silo at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The launch from the silo, originally designed for use during the Cold War, followed a nine-hour, full launch simulation earlier this week. The original ESA CyroSat was destroyed on launch in October 2005 when the second stage engine of its rocket malfunctioned. Officials said they quickly decided to build an improved replacement.

ESA scientists said the satellite — which is fully redundant, with two of all of its instruments — is designed to measure tiny variations in the thickness of ice floating in the polar oceans and changes in the vast ice sheets on land. That will provide evidence of the speed at which Earth’s ice is diminishing. ESA scientists said the information will lead to a better understanding of the role ice plays in the Earth system and climate change.

“After the loss of the original CryoSat in 2005, we are extremely happy to have reached this point after four years rebuilding the satellite, including a number of improvements on the original,” said Richard Francis, the ESA’s project manager. “We are now very much looking forward to … delivering the data the scientific community so badly needs to build a true picture of what is happening in the fragile polar regions.”

The satellite, during its three-year mission, will orbit the Earth at approximately 435 miles

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