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CryoSat 1, 2 (Earth Explorer 3)

CryoSat [Astrium]

The CryoSat uses radar altimeters to determine the thickness of Earth's continental ice sheets and marine sea ice cover. CryoSat is an Earth Explorer Opportunity Mission in ESA's Living Planet Program.

Mission elements are:

  • Radar Altimetry Mission with different novel observation techniques
  • Synthetic Aperture Processing along-track to increase resolution
  • Interferometric Observations across-track with second antenna for steeper terrain slopes
  • Observation of elevation changes over ice sheets, glaciers and ice caps
  • Estimation of freeboard elevation of floating sea ice

Three instruments are mounted on the spacecraft

  • Altimeter SIRAL
  • DORIS receiver
  • Laser reflector

The Cryosat spacecraft was lost in a launch failure of its Rokot-KM launch vehicle on 8. October 2005.

In February, ESA received the green light from its Member States to build and launch a CryoSat recovery mission, CryoSat-2 in 2009. CryoSat-2 has the same mission objectives as the original CryoSat mission. It was booked also for a Rokot-KM launch in 2009, but was moved to a Dnepr in 2010 due to the limited availability of Rokot in the required time period. The launch was successful.

Nation: Europe
Type / Application: Radar Altimetry Mission
Operator: ESA
Contractors: Astrium
Equipment: Radar Altimeter (SIRAL), DORIS, Laser-Retroreflector
Propulsion: ?
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 750 kg
Orbit: 720 km × 720 km, 92
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
CryoSat 2005-F03 08.10.2005 Pl LC-133/3 F Rokot-KM
CryoSat 2 (Earth Explorer 3) 2010-013A 08.04.2010 TB LC-109/95 Dnepr


  • ESA Website