NASA's Earth Science Satellite - The need of the hour - Seeker's Thoughts

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Sunday, 16 September 2018

NASA's Earth Science Satellite - The need of the hour


ICESat-2  It is an advanced satellite, which intends to measure the annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica.
It is one among the most advanced satellite which will use laser technology. It will survey earth and will advance the knowledge of ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica and how much impact it has on sea level rise.
What is so important about it?

It represents a major technological leap in ability to measure changes in ice heights. The technology used is- ATLAS ( Advanced Topographic  Laser Altimeter System, It measures the height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and Back. 
ATLAS will feature new technologies that will allow it to collect a more detailed, precise picture of the heights of the planet’s ice, vegetation, land surface, water and clouds. As it orbits over the poles, ATLAS has three major tasks: Send pulses of laser light to the ground, collect the returning photons in a telescope, and record the photon travel time.
It will collect 250 times higher measurements more than its predecessors.
ATLAS will fire 10,000 times every second, sending trillions of photons to the ground in six beam of green light.
It cycles from pole to pole. So it will include the ice of polar region as well.
Working and Benefits-

ATLAS will measure both the tops of the trees and the ground below, so it will also help to estimate the amount of carbon stored in the world's forests.
The pulses of light travel through a series of lenses and mirrors before beaming to the ground. This pathway along the optical bench serves to start the stopwatch on the timing mechanism, check the laser's wavelength, set the size of the ground footprint, ensure that the laser and the telescope are perfectly aligned, and split the laser into six beams
It will also help in high data collection on ocean waves, reservoir levels, and urban areas.

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