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Satellites to probe ice caps, ocean winds !

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#1 sajan


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Posted 04 December 2002 - 10:03 AM

Satellites to probe ice caps, ocean winds and birth of stars

Next month, three US satellites will blast off on missions to study the polar ice caps, the ocean winds and the birth of stars in the deepest recesses of outer space, NASA officials said.
The first satellite, aptly named ICESat (Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite), will use a sophisticated laser to measure the thickness of the polar ice caps, especially whether they grow or shrink, over Antarctic and Greenland.

ICESat will also provide valuable information on the sparse vegetation near the poles.

"This mission will provide revolutionary insight into changes in ice and the role ice plays in our Earth system, using a spaceborne laser to look at the topography of ice both in the Antarctic and Greenland," National Aeronautics and Space Administration Associate Administrator for Earth Science Ghassem Asrar announced Tuesday at NASA headquarters.

ICESat will blast off into orbit December 19, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It will settle at an altitude of some 600 km above the Earth.

NASA will use the same launch vehicle to place another satellite in orbit to study the formation of stars.

Called CHIPS (Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer), the suitcase sized satellite carries a spectrometer to study very hot, low density gas in the far reaches of the cosmos.

NASA's third satellite, Seawinds, will measure the speed and directions of the winds over oceans. It will be launched by the Japanese Space Agency along with Japans' Advanced Earth Observing Satellite II on December 13 from Tanegashima space centre.
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