European Polar Ice Satellite Prepares For Launch

CryoSat-2 replaces the original CryoSat which crashed into the ocean it was meant to study

The European Space Agency is set to launch a satellite which will measure the thickness of polar ice to provide more evidence of the impacts of climate change.

Due to launch at 15:57 CEST on Wednesday, CryoSat-2 is a replacement for the failed CryoSat mission in 2005 which resulted in the satellite crashing into the Arctic Ocean minutes after launch.

CyroSat-2 will study the variations in the thickness of ice floating in the polar oceans and provide evidence on how quickly the ice is disappearing. “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, ESA’s project manager, speaking from ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.

CryoSat-2 will be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan using a Dnepr rocket fired from an underground silo. “We are now very much looking forward to a successful launch and then delivering the data the scientific community so badly needs to build a true picture of what is happening in the fragile polar regions,” added Francis.

Last month, it was announced that a new UK space centre will conduct a range of IT-led activities, including analysing data generated by satellites, to better understand and develop ways to counter climate change. The International Space Innovation Centre, announced alongside the launch of the UK Space Agency in late March, will cost around £40 million to develop – £12 million of which will come from the UK Department of Business Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) Strategic Investment Fund, with the rest made up by industry.

In August last year NASA revealed details of its expanded high-end computing system that will serve as the modeling centerpiece of a new climate simulation. The expansion added 4,128 computer processors to Goddard Space Flight Center’s Discover high-end computing system.