Cryosat-2 is an altimetry satellite built by the European Space Agency dedicated to polar observation. It embarks on a three-and-a half-year mission to determine variations in the thickness of the Earth's continental ice sheets and marine ice cover, and to test the prediction of thinning arctic ice due to global warming.
The Cryosat-2 satellite studies continental and sea ice. Its orbit -at an inclination of about 92 degrees and an altitude of 717 kilometers- covers almost all polar regions. Cryosat-2 carries an altimeter/interferometer called Siral and a Doris instrument, but no radiometer. Siral is a Ku-band instrument (13.575 GHz) operating in three modes :
Current plans are for Cryosat to operate over the oceans for validation purposes, in low-resolution mode. That means that the ground segments will be able to process oceanic altimetry measurements acquired by Siral. Direct radiometric corrections, however, will not be possible.
Dynamic topography data of medium quality, but from a new orbit, might therefore be available. These data could be combined with measurements from other dedicated altimetry missions.
One first satellite Cryosat was lost on launch, on October 8, 2005, due to an anomaly in the launch sequence.
More information on the mission (Esa website)