The European Space Agency’s (ESA) CryoSat-2 earth observation satellite was successfully launched yesterday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Russian Dnepr rocket. As a cooperating member of ESA, the Canadian Space Agency is contributing to ESA’s Earth Observation Envelope Programme and therefore is participating in the mission.
The Cryosat-2 satellite is the billed as the most sophisticated satellite ever developed to study the Earth’s ice fields. Cryosat-2 will carry a single payload instrument, a new RADAR-altimeter called SIRAL. The satellite will take 20,000 measurements per second over the next three years and be able to detect changes in the thickness of the ice of only a few centimeters.
Canadian scientists participating in CryoSat-2 mission include;
1) Professor Martin Sharp (University of Alberta) – Quantification of the variability between radar-measured snow surface elevation change, actual snow surface elevation change, and ice mass change.
2) Dr. Michael Demuth (Geological Survey of Canada) – Cross-calibration of the CryoSat-2 altimeter over icecaps and ice fields of the Canadian Arctic and Rocky mountains with in-situ geo-positioning.
3) Professor Christian Haas (University of Alberta) – Airborne Laser Terrain Mapping and geophysical snow properties studies validation of CryoSat-2: sea ice thickness, freeboard, and sea surface height.
4) Professor Alexander Braun (University of Calgary) – CryoSat-2 Multi-Surface Validation in Churchill, Manitoba and Hudson Bay.
5) Professor David Barber (University of Manitoba) – Calibration and Validation of CryoSat-2 data products.
6) Dr. Ingrid Peterson (Bedford Institute of Oceanography and Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada) – Validation of sea-ice thickness data from CryoSat-2 using a fix-mounted helicopter-borne electromagnetic sensor, and upward-looking sonar moorings in Canadian Arctic and Labrador Shelf Regions.
Participation by Canadian scientists is made possible through partial funding provided by CSA’s Government Related Initiative Program (GRIP).
Through the CSA GRIP Program, the Geological Survey of Canada has initiated a new project called “Canadian Cryosphere CryoSat Applications” which is meant to develop capacity in the study of cryosphere fluctuations and their impacts on Northern Canada.
The project is also a part the governments Canada’s Frontier Surveillance Strategy and will contribute to policy development by providing technical data.
Related video: An Introduction to CryoSat-2