ICESat-2 is a continuation of the global time series of precision ice topography measurements initiated by the first ICESat mission and extended in selected areas by the IceBridge campaigns, a series of ongoing surveys of selected polar areas using aircraft-borne instruments. The first ICESat, on orbit from 2003 to 2010, provided invaluable data needed to assess ice sheet mass balance, sea ice thickness and to estimate biomass.
ICESat-2 will use improved precision laser-ranging techniques to measure the topography of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the thickness of sea ice. ICESat-2 will support NASA's Earth science program by helping scientists develop a better scientific understanding of the Earth system and its response to natural or human-induced changes.
Orbital is responsible for the design and manufacture of the ICESat-2 spacecraft, as well as payload integration and system test of the completed observatory. The spacecraft design is derived from Orbital's proven LEOStar-3 bus used for NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (Landsat 8), the GeoEye-1 Earth imaging satellite, and NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope.
Orbit: 481 km @ 94° inclination (1387 orbit repeat cycle)
Launch mass: 1,324 kg (2,919 lb)
Solar Arrays: Single wing with fixed and articulating mode, 3818 W EOL
Stabilization: 3-axis, zero momentum bias, nadir pointing
Design Life: 3 years; 7 years propellant
In Development. Launch planned for 2016
Customer: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)
Mission: To measure the topography of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the thickness of sea ice