Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA'S ICESat: One Billion Elevations Served

Date:
November 26, 2005
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) fired its one billionth laser shot earthward on Nov. 18, to obtain elevations from objects on the land, sea and in the air. ICESat measures the Earth's polar ice sheets, clouds, mountains and forests with three lasers. Crisscrossing the globe at nearly 17,000 miles per hour, ICESat provides unprecedented accuracy in mapping Earth's vertical characteristics, enabling scientists to see objects on Earth in three dimensions.

ICESat orbits the Earth every 100 minutes firing laser pulses toward the Earth surface. By measuring the travel time of the laser pulse to the surface and back to the satellite, the elevation of the Earth, ocean, cloud top surface etc. can be determined with unprecedented accuracy.
Credit: NASA

NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) fired its one billionth laser shot earthward on Nov. 18, to obtain elevations from objects on the land, sea and in the air.

Related Articles


ICESat measures the Earth's polar ice sheets, clouds, mountains and forests with three lasers. Crisscrossing the globe at nearly 17,000 miles per hour, ICESat provides unprecedented accuracy in mapping Earth's vertical characteristics, enabling scientists to see objects on Earth in three dimensions.

The principal mission of ICESat is to measure the surface elevation of the large ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland. Measurements of elevation-change over time will show whether the ice sheets are melting or growing as the Earth's climate undergoes natural and human-induced changes.

The instrument on ICESat that makes the claim is the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) instrument. GLAS fired its one billionth shot on the morning of Friday, November 18. "One billion shots equal one billion elevation measurements around the world of land, sea clouds, etc." said Waleed Abdalati, head of the Cryospheric Sciences Branch, Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "That number tops the 670 million shots from Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter, an instrument currently in orbit around Mars on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft," he said.

GLAS sends short pulses of green and infrared light though the sky 40 times a second, all over the globe, and collects the reflected laser light with a one-meter telescope. It also fires a fine laser beam of light that spreads out as it approaches the Earth surface to about 65 meters in diameter. On its way to the surface, those photons or particles of light bounce off clouds, aerosols, ice, leaves, ocean, land and more providing detailed information on the vertical structure of the earth system.

ICESat was launched on January 3, 2003 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Related Links:

For more information on ICESat, please visit on the Internet: http://icesat.gsfc.nasa.gov


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA'S ICESat: One Billion Elevations Served." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051126135736.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2005, November 26). NASA'S ICESat: One Billion Elevations Served. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051126135736.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA'S ICESat: One Billion Elevations Served." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051126135736.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) A scuba diving Santa Claus explored the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Dive shop owner Spencer Slate makes the dive each year to help raise money for charity. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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