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ESA's CryoSat-2 launched to study Earth ice

The CryoSat-2 being launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. An ESA Photo

BAIKONUR (BNS): The European Space Agency has successfully launched its CryoSat-2 satellite dedicated to study Earth's ice sheet.

The Russian-built Dnepr rocket, carrying the satellite, blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1357 GMT on Thursday. The spacecraft got separated from the launcher 17 minutes later and was safely placed in orbit, ESA said.

The CrySat-2 will take the place of the original CryoSat which was lost in 2005 due to a launch failure.

The satellite will measure changes in the thickness of vast ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland. It will also observe changes in the thickness of the relatively thin ice floating in the polar oceans.

CryoSat-2 will send back data leading to new insights into how ice is responding to climate change and the role it plays in our 'Earth system', ESA said.

With the latest launch, the total number of ESA's Earth observing satellites has gone up to three, all launched within a little over 12 months. The other two satellites are the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission, launched in March 2009, and the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, launched last November.

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