ICESat-2 will precisely map the Earth's third dimension • Earth.com

ICESat-2 will precisely map the Earth's third dimension

09-03-2018


ICESat-2 will precisely map the Earth’s third dimension Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard describes the objectives of ICESat-2, which is part of NASA’s Earth Observing System.

The ICESat-2 mission will measure the Earth’s “third dimension” – which is made up of glaciers, sea ice, mountains, and forests – with unprecedented precision. ICESat-2 will also survey heights of the world’s forests, lakes, urban areas, cloud cover and more, adding a third dimension to flat images of Earth from space. Other Earth-observing satellites, such as Landsat and MODIS, allow researchers to study the location and extent of forests; ICESat-2 will allow them to add the height.

ICESat-2’s sole instrument, ATLAS, collects elevation data using six laser beams – which gives the new mission much denser coverage of Earth’s surface. The original ICESat had a single laser beam, collecting data in a grid shown to the left. The original ICESat had a single laser beam, collecting data in a grid shown to the left. With ICESat-2’s six laser beams, the satellite will be able to take measurements in a much denser grid, as seen on the right. ICESat-2 is a NASA follow-up mission to ICESat with the goal to continue measuring and monitoring the impacts of the changing environment. The ICESat-2 observatory contains a single instrument, an improved laser altimeter called ATLAS (Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System).  ICESat-2 will precisely map the Earth’s third dimension.

Data from the satellite will enable scientists to track changes in the terrain of ecosystems worldwide.

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

Video Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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