The aim of the CryoSat mission is to determine variations in the thickness of the Earth's continental ice sheets and marine ice cover. Europe's first ice mission is an advanced radar altimeter specifically designed to monitor the most dynamic sections of Earth's cryosphere.
CryoSat borrows synthetic aperture radar and interferometry techniques from standard imaging radar missions to sharpen its accuracy over rugged ice sheet margins and sea ice in polar waters. It measures 'freeboard' - the difference in height between sea ice and adjacent water - as well as ice sheet altitude, tracking changes in ice thickness.
It was the first Earth Explorer mission to be selected in 1999, and was launched on 8 April 2010. The mission was later extended to December 2021.
|Orbit||LEO, non Sun-synchronous|
|Repeat cycles||369 days with 30 day sub-cycle|
|Launch provider||International Space Company Kosmotras|
|Launcher||Russian/Ukrainian Dnepr based on SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile|