ICESat-2 Elevates Our View of Earth. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Ryan Fitzgibbons
Release Date: September 10, 2018
BUFFALO, N.Y. — When NASA launches its new ice-monitoring satellite on Sept. 15, two University at Buffalo scientists will be on hand to watch history unfold.
Beata Csatho, chair of geology, and Anton Schenk, research professor of geology, will be at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the launch of NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2). The spacecraft is expected to be a vital tool in the study of climate change and sea level rise, enabling scientists to measure the shifting elevation of ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice.
Csatho — one of hundreds of scientists and engineers who worked on the NASA mission — played a key role in planning its science goals. From 2011-14, she led the Science Definition Team that helped determine the satellite’s scientific requirements, such as the precision of the laser-based research instrument on board.
“We have been preparing for the launch of ICESat-2 for many years, so of course this is a very exciting milestone,” Csatho says. “It comes at a time of critical importance: The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are rapidly losing ice, and we need to monitor them continuously to understand the mechanisms driving these changes, and to make better predictions about how global sea level will rise in the next few decades.
“I have served on the science team of three NASA missions devoted to monitoring ice sheets: the original ICESat, in operation from 2003-09; Operation IceBridge, an airborne survey that has been active since 2009; and ICESat-2. The unprecedented resolution and accuracy of ICESat-2 will undoubtedly lead to new discoveries about how ice sheets and glaciers are changing — and how these changes may impact coastal communities worldwide.”
Csatho and Schenk will be available for interviews by phone after the launch on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Launch of NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2)
Saturday, Sept. 15. The launch is currently scheduled for a 40-minute window opening at 8:46 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time that day.
Beata Csatho, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Geology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and Anton Schenk, PhD, research professor of geology. Both will be available to speak by phone after the launch.
Contact Cory Nealon in University Communications at 716-645-4614 or email@example.com by Friday, Sept. 14 to make arrangements in advance for a phone call with the UB scientists.
Once in orbit, ICESat-2 is expected to be a vital tool in understanding the impacts of climate change.
The satellite will use laser pulses to measure the elevation of the surface of the Earth, covering the Arctic and Antarctica in detail every 91 days — data that will enable scientists to calculate the changing thickness of ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice.
This work will address important questions in a warming world. For example: How much will sea level rise in coming years? How will coastal communities be affected, from remote island nations like Tuvalu to huge metropolises like Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro and New York City?
At UB, Csatho and Schenk are part of a team of researchers engaged in projects that intend to use data from ICESat-2 to learn about the Earth’s glaciated regions.
Collaborators include Abani Patra, PhD, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and director of the Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (CDSE) program; and Prashant Shekhar, PhD candidate in CDSE.
Learn more about UB researchers’ work with ICESat-2: