Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

ASIRAS, A New ESA Airborne Instrument Sees Ice For The First Time

Date:
April 8, 2004
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
CryoSat, due for launch at the end of this year, will be the first satellite to be launched as part of ESA's Living Planet Programme. From an altitude of 720 kilometres it will measure small changes, of no more than a few centimetres or so, in the thickness of polar ice sheets and floating sea ice.

Artist's impresssion of the CryoSat satellite in orbit.
Credit: Image courtesy European Space Agency

Making sure that the measurements made by satellites are as accurate as possible has always been a difficult business and this will be especially true for ESA’s ice mission CryoSat. However, last week a new instrument, which is set to be the workhorse for validating CryoSat data, was successfully tested from an aircraft over the snow and ice not far from the North Pole.

CryoSat, due for launch at the end of this year, will be the first satellite to be launched as part of ESA’s Living Planet Programme. From an altitude of 720 kilometres it will measure small changes, of no more than a few centimetres or so, in the thickness of polar ice sheets and floating sea ice. The main aim of this mission is to determine whether or not the Earth’s ice masses are actually thinning due to global warming.

CryoSat will carry a SAR/Interferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL) to perform these precise measurements. However, there are a number of reasons why the data could possibly be flawed. For example, the different seasons cause the properties of snow and ice to change and this can mask or influence the signal reflected back to the SIRAL instrument. These, and other sources of error, have to be thoroughly investigated over the next three years through dedicated, independent ground-based and airborne measurement campaigns. A series of planned campaigns will allow scientists participating in the experiment to understand and characterise the uncertainties in CryoSat measurements and ultimately correct for them so that the final data is as accurate and meaningful as possible.

During the last two weeks of March an important step forward was made in the preparations for the CryoSat validation campaigns. For the first time, the ESA Airborne Synthetic Aperture and Interferometric Radar Altimeter System (ASIRAS) was flown and tested over the snow and ice expanses of Svalbard, an archipelago of islands lying in the extreme north of Europe just 12 degrees from the North Pole. The ASIRAS radar altimeter simulates CryoSat measurements from an aircraft. The specific aim of this campaign was to acquire the first data sets of the instrument over snow and ice and to make sure that the instrument could be operated under the icy temperatures and high winds prevalent in this part of the world. While ESA is awaiting full analysis results this week, initial indications are that the instrument functioned well and is ready for the challenging validation work ahead. “Personally I was relieved that the instrument worked so well”, said Malcolm Davidson, the ESA Validation Manager for CryoSat. “Over the winter a lot of effort was put into readying ASIRAS for the coming validation campaigns, and it was good to see this hard work pay off. We only have a few weeks left before the start of the first official CryoSat validation campaign, which will be a grand tour across various sites in Svalbard, Greenland and Canada. It was imperative to verify the functioning of the instrument under realistic conditions. We now feel that we are ready to begin the task of properly validating CryoSat data with the aid of ASIRAS.”

Constantin Mavrocordatos, the Payload Manager for CryoSat and responsible for the development of ASIRAS added, “This development is a good example of a successful research activity. The instrument was orginally developed for research purposes and now it is set to be an excellent operational tool for CryoSat validation experiments.”

ASIRAS was built by Radar Systemtechnik (RST) of Switzerland with the support of the Alfred Wegner Institute (AWI) and Optimare for the implementation and operation on an aircraft.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "ASIRAS, A New ESA Airborne Instrument Sees Ice For The First Time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040408090657.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2004, April 8). ASIRAS, A New ESA Airborne Instrument Sees Ice For The First Time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040408090657.htm
European Space Agency. "ASIRAS, A New ESA Airborne Instrument Sees Ice For The First Time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040408090657.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins