CryoSat-2 - the ice mission
6 April 2010
At 14:57 UK time, Thursday 8 April, the European Space Agency will launch its third Earth Explorer satellite CryoSat-2 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
How CryoSat-2 will give scientists detailed information about changes in ice cover at the poles
The UK-led mission will measure the shape and thickness of Arctic and Antarctic ice with unprecedented accuracy.
Although scientists know the ice caps are melting, they're not sure how melting polar ice affects ocean circulation patterns, sea level and climate. And because the poles are difficult to access, the only way to get this information is by using satellites.
CryoSat-2's ability to monitor changes at the poles will surpass the abilities of earlier ESA satellites - its radar has been specifically designed for the task and its orbit will cover much more of the Arctic than was previously possible.
Sue Nelson speaks to Professor Duncan Wingham, principal investigator of the mission at University College London, to find out more.
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