A $1 billion space laser to measure the melting of the Earth’s ice

File NASA

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) – On Saturday, September 15, NASA is expected to launch the world’s most advanced space laser device, ICESat-2, at a cost of $ 1 billion to reveal the depths of melting ice on Earth.

The satellite, weighing about half a ton, will be launched on a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The 40-minute launch window is scheduled to open at 12:46 GMT.

“The mission is of exceptional importance to science,” said Richard Slunker, director of the ICESat-2 program at NASA.

It has been almost a decade since NASA developed an instrument in orbit to measure the rise of ice sheet surfaces worldwide.

The previous mission, ICESat, began in 2003 and ended in 2009, when researchers learned that the sea ice was thin, with the ice cover disappearing from coastal areas of Greenland and Antarctica.

Over the past nine years, an aircraft named “Operation IceBridge” flew over the North and South Pole, taking measurements of altitude and documenting changes in ice volume, NASA said.

ICESat-2 will help researchers understand the melting of ice sheets, which contribute to sea-level rise.

ICESat-2 is equipped with a pair of lasers that will not be hot enough to melt the ice from its location 500 km above the surface. The developer laser will provide a higher degree of detail, taking measurements every 0.7 meters, along the satellite path.

The mission is to continue for 3 years, but has enough fuel to last for 10 years, if the mission managers decide to extend it.

It should be noted that the continued dependence of man on fossil fuels for energy purposes means the continued increase of greenhouse gases on the planet. The average global temperature is increasing year by year, with 4 of the hottest years of the modern era between 2014-2017.

Arctic and Greenland ice cover is shrinking, increasing sea level rise that threatens hundreds of millions of people along the coasts.