Minimize CryoSat Mission Summary


The main objective of the CryoSat mission is to determine fluctuations in the mass of the Earth's major land and marine ice fields.

Launch: 8 April 2010 (DNEPR rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan)

Mission Duration: 6 month commissioning (April 2010 to November 2010) + 3 years nominal mission. Mission extended until December 2019.

On-board sensors

SIRAL (SAR/Interferometric Radar Altimeter)

  • Low-Resolution Mode provides  conventional pulse-width limited altimetry over central ice caps and oceans
  • SAR Mode improves along-track resolution (~250 m) over sea ice by significantly increased pulse repetition frequency and complex ground processing
  • SAR Interferometric Mode adds a second receive chain to measure the cross-track angle of arrival of the echo over topographic surfaces at the margins of ice caps.
Star Trackers
  • Measure the interferometric baseline orientation, as well as driving satellite attitude control


  • Doppler Orbitography and Radio- positioning Integrated by Satellite
  • Enables precise orbit determination, as well as providing on orbit position to the satellite attitude control
Laser Retro Reflector
  • Passive Optical Reflector
  • Enables tracking by ground-based lasers

Configuration: Simplified rigid structure with no moving parts; all electronics mounted on nadir plate acting as radiator; SIRAL antennas on isostatically mounted plate with Star Trackers; dedicated SIRAL radiator. All units redundant.

Payload budgets (including margins)
Power 2x GaAs body-mounted solar arrays, with 800 W each at normal solar incidence. 78 Ah Li-ion battery.
TM-band X-band data downlink: 100 Mbps at 8.100 GHz
S-band TTC link: 2 kbps uplink, 16 kbps downlink
Data volume 1 internally redundant Solid-State Recorder, total capacity 256 Gbits

Mission Orbit
Orbit type LEO, non sun-synchronous
Repeat cycle 369 days (30 day sub-cycle)
Mean altitude 717 km
Inclination 92 deg
Orientation Local normal pointing with yaw steering
Stabilisation 3-axis stabilised local-normal pointing, with 6° nose-down attitude, using magneto-torquers and 10 mN cold-gas thrusters. Attitude determination by Star Trackers, supported by Combined Earth Sun Sensor (CESS) and magnetometers.

Dimensions: 4.60 m x 2.34 m x 2.20 m

Mass: 725 kg (including 37 kg fuel and 120 kg payload)

Mission Operations:

  • Ground station: Single ground station at Kiruna (LEOP: Kiruna, Svalbard, Troll)
  • Flight Operations: ESOC, Darmstadt
  • Payload Data Processing: Data processing facility at the Kiruna ground station. Local archiving of data with precision processing after one month following delivery of precision orbits from DORIS ground segment (under CNES responsibility). Dissemination through EO network services. User Services and mission planning coordinated at ESRIN.