Later on Sunday, CryoSat-2's primary instrument, the Synthetic Aperture Interferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL), was switched on for the first time and started gathering the first radar echo data.
SIRAL's first data were acquired at 16:40 CEST and were downloaded and processed at ESA's Kiruna ground station.
CryoSat-2's sophisticated instruments will measure changes at the margins of the vast ice sheets that lie over Greenland and Antarctica and in the marine ice floating in the polar oceans. By accurately measuring thickness change in both types of ice, CryoSat-2 will provide information critical to scientists' understanding of the role ice plays in the Earth system."The combined ground teams proved the value of months of extensive training and preparation and the satellite has shown to be a high-quality machine with very few problems. The launch and orbit injection have been almost flawless and we are looking forward to an extremely productive mission," said Richard Francis, ESA's Project Manager for CryoSat-2.
"We are very happy with the first calibration results from SIRAL. The data are now being processed and made available almost immediately to the commissioning teams. We are now optimising the data-processing system and results will be released once we have accumulated enough data," said Tommaso Parrinello, ESA’s CryoSat mission Manager.
Marking a significant achievement for ESA's Earth observation programme, CryoSat-2 is the third of its Earth Explorer satellites to be placed in orbit, all within a little over 12 months. CryoSat-2 follows on from the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission, launched in March 2009, and the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, launched last November.
Robert Meisner | EurekAlert!
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