France: CryoSat-2 satellite data from European Space Agency’s (ESA) ice mission released for the few selected scientists around the world for fine-tuning. The release comes just three months after CryoSat-2 was launched, is the first milestone in the scientific exploitation of the mission’s data. These data are essential for determining tiny variations in the thickness of ice floating in the polar oceans and in the large ice sheets that blanket Antarctica and Greenland.
Around 150 scientists from about 40 research institutes now have access to the data. As part of the calibration and validation procedure, it is their job to help ensure these measurements meet the mission’s exacting standards before the data are released to the wider scientific community later this year. “This is the first release of CryoSat data to users outside our project team, and notably early for a mission of this type,” said ESA’s CryoSat-2 Mission Manager, Tommaso Parrinello.
“We are now entering the final part of the commissioning phase, where the calibration and validation team play an important role by carefully checking the CryoSat data products before they are released to the scientific community”.
These validation campaigns, in the Arctic and Antarctic, involve simultaneous measurements on the ground and from aircraft as CryoSat-2 orbits above. By comparing ground readings with airborne measurements and then the airborne measurements with those from the satellite, the accuracy of the data from CryoSat-2 can be assessed.