CryoSat-2, Europe's first ice mission, is an advanced radar altimeter specifically designed to monitor the most dynamic sections of Earth's cryosphere. It 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. CryoSat-2 measures 'freeboard', the difference in height between sea ice and adjacent water, as well as ice sheet altitude and tracking changes in ice thickness.
CryoSat-2's primary payload is the SAR/Interferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL) which has extended capabilities to meet the measurement requirements for ice-sheet elevation and sea-ice freeboard.
CryoSat-2 carries also three star trackers for measuring the orientation of the baseline. In addition, a radio receiver called Doppler Orbit and Radio Positioning Integration by Satellite (DORIS) and a small laser retroreflector ensures that CryoSat-2's position will be accurately tracked.
More detailed information on CryoSat instruments is available here.
CryoSat's mission is dedicated to monitoring very precise changes in the elevation and thickness of polar ice sheets and floating sea ice over a three-year period. The observations made by CryoSat will determine whether or not our ice masses are thinning due to global warming.
The question of whether global climate change is causing the polar ice caps to shrink is one of the most hotly-debated environmental issues we currently face. By monitoring precise changes in the thickness of the polar ice sheets and floating sea ice, the CryoSat mission aims to answer this question.
More detailed information on the CryoSat Mission Objectives, including the science and measurement requirements, is available here.
The objective of the CryoSat Wiki Forum is to provide an Internet e-collaboration platform for sharing information, results, resources and documents amongst the CryoSat user community and with ESA. Thematic forums are available that provide an online discussion board where CryoSat users can post and follow threads over specific topics organized by System, Sea ice, Land ice, Ocean and Coastal zones.