The NASA Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) launched from Vandenberg AFB on Saturday, September 15, 2018 at 6:02am PDT.
On September 30, 2018, ICESat-2 fired its first laser and on October 3, NASA received the first height measurements from the satellite.
A visualization of ICESat-2 data, called a photon cloud, shows the first set of height measurements from the satellite, taken as it orbited over the Antarctic ice sheet. Each blue dot represents a photon detected by the ATLAS instrument. This photon cloud shows the elevation measured by photons in the middle of the ice sheet, following along 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) of the satellite’s ground track, from left to right. The speckled dots are background photons from sunlight, but the thick blue line is actually a concentration of dots that represent laser photons that returned to the ICESat-2 satellite. Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
This is a monumental feat because this satellite will be giving us more data than any other satellite in the history of Earth observations from space. The satellite will be collecting and sending 1 Terabyte per day to NASA researchers working on the mission.
ICESat-2 photons returned to the satellite. Meters Vs. Height through the center of Antarctica.
Credits: Susheel Adusumilli at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
As you know, the ICESat-2 Mission is a key mission that is part of the Trees Around the GLOBE Student Research Campaign. ICESat-2 will measure tree height from space. Tree Height is a vital GLOBE measurement that is part of the Biometry Protocol.
Read the featured featured press release: "ICESat-2 Laser Fires for 1st Time, Measures Antarctic Height"
Learn about what ICESat-2 is measuring by watching the video above!