New CryoSat infographic
CryoSat - ESA's ice mission - recently celebrated ten years in space, during which it has provided invaluable data for research. To mark the anniversary we put together an infographic about the mission and its many achievements.
CRYO2ICE Orbit Raising Campaign: Data Quality Status
During the CRYO2ICE Orbit Raising Campaign, the CryoSat QC team monitored data production between the orbit manoeuvres and performed detailed checks of all Near Real Time (NRT) data generated.
SIRAL measurements continue during CRYO2ICE
On 16 July, ESA is kicking off its CRYO2ICE campaign that aims to raise CryoSat-2's orbit by approximately 900 metres, bringing it in sync with NASA's ICESat-2.
CRYO2ICE is now on Earth Online
On 16 July, ESA is kicking off the CRYO2ICE campaign that will raise the orbit of its CryoSat-2 satellite to periodically align with NASA’s ICESat-2.
New CryoSat BUFR products for the meteorological community
From 11 May new CryoSAT NOP data will be disseminated by ESA to the Italian MetOffice.
Systematic swath elevation and monthly DEMs over the Greenland Ice Sheet margin from CryoSat
The CryoTEMPO-EOLIS (Elevation Over Land Ice from Swath), the first of the CryoTEMPO products, is now available.

blue arrow Mission Overview

CryoSat logo

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.

Mission parameters
Orbit LEO, non Sun-synchronous
Altitude 717 km
Inclination 92°
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

blue arrow Mission Objectives

The CryoSat mission objectives are to:

  • Measure the extent of thinning Arctic ice due to climate change
  • Determine fluctuations in the mass of the Earth's major land and marine ice fields
  • Determine regional trends in Arctic perennial sea-ice thickness and mass
  • Determine the contribution that the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are making to mean global rise in sea level
  • Observe the seasonal cycle and inter-annual variability of Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice mass and thickness
  • Observe the variation in the thickness of the Earth's ice caps and glaciers

blue arrow Instruments

The SAR/Inteferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL) has extended capabilities to meet the measurement requirements for ice-sheet elevation and sea-ice freeboard. find out more

Non-scientific instrument payload

The orbital position of CryoSat can be determined to within a few centimetres. To do this, CryoSat carries two devices: the DORIS radio receiver and a laser retroreflector.

DORIS (Doppler Orbitography and Radiopositioning Integration by Satellite) measures the Doppler frequency shifts of both VHF and S-Band signals transmitted by ground beacons.

DORIS is an uplink radio frequency tracking system based on the Doppler principle. The instrument provides accurate measurements for a precise orbit determination. Knowledge of the orbit is essential for exploitation of the altimeter data and the overall performance. The onboard receiver measures the Doppler shift of data received by ground beacons in two frequencies (2.03625 GHz and 401.25 MHz). One measurement is used to determine the radial velocity between spacecraft and beacon, the other to eliminate errors due to ionospheric propagation delays.

LRR (Laser Retroreflector) is a passive optical device attached to the underside of CryoSat. LRR is used as an additional tool and backup for precise orbit determination with the aid of the international laser tracking network.

blue arrow Data

blue arrow DATA DOWNLOAD

Download CryoSat data from the following platforms:

Special datasets

During the course of the CryoSat mission, a number of special datasets have been released in addition to the primary products:

  • CryoSat Roll Campaigns - Download SARIN data acquired during CryoSat's roll campaigns, which are conducted periodically to calibrate the interferometric baseline of the altimeter
  • CryoSat STR mispointing angles dataset - Download Star Tracker mispointing angles corrected for the aberration of light. This dataset is particularly important for anyone processing data in Swath Mode
  • CryoSat Baseline C data samples - Download examples of the CryoSat Ocean and Ice products processed in Baseline C. These data samples are intended to help familiarise everyone with the format of the new CryoSat products and are not fully representative of the quality that will be provided when this data is released to the user community.
  • CryoSat Antarctic Digital Elevation Model


CryoSat data is freely and openly available to everyone. Access is provided to all CryoSat systematic data acquired according to the current geographical mode mask.

The following CryoSat products are available:

Products generated by the CryoSat Ice Processor:

  • Near Real Time (FDM, SAR, SARIn) – L1B and L2
  • Offline Products (LRM, SAR, SARIn) – L1B and L2
  • Offline Global Data Record (GDR) Products
  • Offline FBR Products (SAR and SARIN)

Products generated by the CryoSat Ocean Processor:

  • Near-Real Time Ocean Products (NOP) – L1B, L2
  • Intermediate Ocean Products (IOP) – L1B, L2 & Pole-to-pole (P2P)
  • Geophysical Ocean Products (GOP) – L1B, L2, P2P

Products generated by CryoTEMPO EOLIS (Elevation Over Land Ice from Swath):

  • CryoTEMPO EOLIS Point Products - Contain a dense set of elevation measurements for individual observations. Due to the high volume of data, the data has been split into tiles of 100 x 100 km in size.
  • CryoTEMPO EOLIS Gridded Products - Contain monthly 2 km resolution DEM with the data sourced from a rolling three month window

Read the CryoSat data description for more information.

blue arrow DATA TOOLS

A number of tools are available for visualising, processing and analysing CryoSat data.


VtCryoSat is a tool designed to simplify browsing and downloading CryoSat products through an interactive, graphical web interface.

Read more

CryoSat User Tool

The CryoSat User Tool (CUT) is a Windows stand-alone application for displaying and downloading CryoSat products from remote FTP servers or from local directories.

Read more

CryoSat Software Routines

CryoSat ingestion routines are functions provided in the C programming language and IDL for reading CryoSat Level 1, and Level 2 Earth Explorer Format (EEF) products.

Read more

CryoSat Matlab routines

Matlab routines are provided for reading the CryoSat Level 1, Level 2 and Level 2I Earth Explorer Format (EEF) products.


Read more

blue arrow Data quality reports

CryoSat Quality Control Reports are available in six different varieties covering quality monitoring of ice and ocean products, daily and monthly performance, data unavailability and IPF processing baseline reports.

Download the latest Geographic Mode Mask, which is used in the mission planning and defines the mode switching of the SIRAL instrument.