The European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday announced the launch of a satellite to study the effects of climate change on the Earth’s icecaps.
The satellite, known as the CyroSat-2, lifted off from Kazakhstan with the help of a Russian rocket. Its specific mission is to measure changes in the thickness of the ice sheets spanning across Antarctica and Greenland, as well as variations in thickness of the ice floating in the polar oceans.
“There is still an urgent need to understand how the volume of ice is changing,” said Volker Liebig, the ESA’s director of Earth Observation Programs. “To make these calculations, scientists also need information on ice thickness.”
The total cost of the project is estimated at around 140 million euros ($187 million). Germany’s contribution will make up for 24 percent of the cost.
The CryoSat-2 is the third “Earth Explorer” satellite put into orbit by the ESA in just over a year. It replaces the original Cryo-Sat, which was lost in 2005 during a launch failure.