Laser Precision: NASA Flights, Satellite Align Over Sea Ice
Measuring the height of a changing planet, one laser pulse at a time.
The Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, measures the height of a changing Earth – one laser pulse at a time, 10,000 laser pulses a second.
First ICESat-2 Global Data Released: Ice, Forests and More
Help NASA Measure Trees with Your Smartphone
ICESat-2 Laser Fires for 1st Time, Measures Antarctic Height
ICESat-2 Launches to Track Earth's Changing Ice
NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) successfully launched from California at 9:02 a.m. EDT Saturday, embarking on its mission to measure the ice of Earth’s frozen reaches with unprecedented accuracy.
ICESat-2 by the Numbers
Watch our video series created for the NASA Laser Social to Goddard on November 3, 2017
A Photon Debut: Student Short Film for NASA Mission
April 09, 2013
NASA Goddard and ICESat-2 management visited Fibertek in Reston, VA to see the ATLAS engineering model laser
August 09, 2013
The ICESat-2 spacecraft passed the Critical Design Review this week, at Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) in Gilbert, Arizona.
September 06, 2013
Congratulations to the ICESat-2 Ground Systems team, which passed its Critical Design Review today at NASA Goddard!
September 13, 2013
The ICESat-2 eClips educational videos, live on the NASA portal
September 24, 2013
With three successful science flights under its belt, the MABEL laser altimeter is scheduled for a final pass over the Chesapeake Bay on 9/25
September 27, 2013
Congratulations to the MABEL team for a successful series of flights this week, as the Proteus aircraft returned to Mojave, CA.
September 30, 2013
MABEL’s in the air! The lidar instrument has been successfully flying this week from NASA Langley
November 18, 2013
Operation IceBridge will be able to cover more ground (ice?) in Antarctica this field campaign, thanks to a new base of operations at McMurdo
January 16, 2014
Congratulations to the ATLAS team -- ICESat-2's instrument has passed its Critical Design Review!
January 28, 2014
Feature: Don't be fooled by the old-fashioned name – MABEL is testing state-of-the-art laser technology for ICESat-2
February 18, 2014
Congratulations to the ICESat-2 team for passing the Critical Design Review!
April 16, 2014
Operation IceBridge mission is flying a grid over Greenland -- some of the same paths ICESat-2 will take
April 22, 2014
Happy Earth Day from ICESat-2! Here's a #GlobalSelfie from one of our engineers, Tyler Evans
April 25, 2014
ICESat-2 measures Earth's height - and our new educational exhibit can measure yours!
May 02, 2014
Congratulations to Anna for her win in the NASA REEL Science Communication Contest!
May 16, 2014
ICESat-2's science team, meeting at NASA Goddard, viewed the ATLAS box structure & flight telescope
June 03, 2014
Feature: How NASA Builds a Space Laser
June 04, 2014
ATLAS - ICESat-2's laser altimeter - takes shape at NASA Goddard
July 11, 2014
Feature: NASA’s High-Flying Laser Altimeter to Check Out Summer Sea Ice and More
July 15, 2014
MABEL's new camera readied to snap photos from above
July 17, 2014
MABEL takes flight from Fairbanks on the ER-2
July 18, 2014
MABEL gets a view of the top of the world
July 28, 2014
An ER-2 pilot reports on life at 65,000 feet over the Arctic
August 01, 2014
Glaciers, forests, sea ice, lakes, volcanoes... the MABEL team mapped routes for key views
August 04, 2014
Melt ponds shine in NASA laser altimeter images
September 02, 2014
A new NASA campaign to help understand clouds & Arctic warming, starts Sept. 3
September 18, 2014
Our logo's penguin has a name - Paige! Thanks to 2nd graders at Montgomery Knolls, Md
October 16, 2014
Operation IceBridge began its Antarctic campaign, including flights where ICESat-2's orbits will converge.
October 30, 2014
To ensure the two sections of ATLAS would mesh perfectly, the Goddard team conducted a 'fit check.'
October 31, 2014
How do you move a satellite's optical bench across a cleanroom? Very slowly. Watch a timelapse.
November 03, 2014
Tracking Arctic sea ice thickness is one of the biggest challenges for polar scientists -- and one that ICESat-2 will help address.
November 17, 2014
Xploration Outer Space talks with the ICESat-2 team and tours our ATLAS cleanroom in its latest episode - check it out!
December 05, 2014
ATLAS engineers prep for a comprehensive performance test of electrical components.
January 05, 2015
ICESat-2 kicks off the New Year with an animation of the satellite's deployment and six laser beams
January 16, 2015
ATLAS on the move! Engineers preped to transfer the box structure into a thermal vacuum chamber at Goddard.
January 23, 2015
Cleanroom team moved ATLAS instrument to the thermal vacuum, to simulate the harsh space environment.
February 06, 2015
Engineers check out the ATLAS box structure, before closing the door of the Thermal Vacuum Chamber for testing.
February 27, 2015
Congrats to the Orbital ATK team that built ICESat-2's spacecraft bus, which passed its pre-environmental readiness review.
March 04, 2015
Return to Room Temperature: The ATLAS box structure has successfully completed a round of thermal vacuum testing.
March 11, 2015
The applications team and early adopters met this week to prepare for the influx of height measurements from ICESat-2.
March 17, 2015
Operation IceBridge took off this morning at 5:28 AM from Wallops Flight Facility! They are currently on their way to Thule, Greenland!
March 19, 2015
2015 Arctic Sea Ice Maximum Annual Extent Is Lowest On Record
April 05, 2015
Laser-like focus on sea ice: Image of the Day
April 21, 2015
The future's so bright... ATLAS needs a sunshade
April 22, 2015
Happy Earth Day from Union Station, where we are spreading the word about Earth's frozen areas
May 07, 2015
It's been a busy year! Last May our ATLAS team started integration and testing for the instrument. Now, they're preparing to unite the two main sections of the laser.
May 12, 2015
ICESat-2 presented a NASA plaque to Montgomery Knolls School in Md, for coming up with a name for our penguin: Paige.
May 13, 2015
A milestone: The Optical Bench was successfully mated to the Box Structure! Check out this time lapse captured inside the clean room by Tyler Evans, Optical Engineer.
May 14, 2015
ATLAS team gives 'thumbs up' to the successful mating of the optical bench to the box structure, yesterday at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
May 19, 2015
Take a front-row seat in the clean room, as the engineering team connects the two main sections of ICESat-2's ATLAS instrument.
May 27, 2015
ICESat-2's newest fans, from the World Science Festival in New York. They investigated the layers in a Greenland ice core that went back hundreds of years. #WSF15
May 28, 2015
Science experiments, sped up! At the World Science Festival in NYC. #wsf15
June 02, 2015
Operation IceBridge's Arctic campaign wrapped up May 21. Fly along over the mountains of Eastern Greenland in this video, music courtesy of Moby.
June 16, 2015
Feature: A Laser Beam’s Path Through NASA's ICESat-2
July 02, 2015
Think cool thoughts this holiday weekend. Here, these 118 seconds of ICESat-2 should help.
July 08, 2015
We have our lasers! The integration team installed the primary and backup lasers onto ATLAS, ICESat-2's instrument that will measure heights. #pewpew
July 15, 2015
3 billion miles away.... Icy mountains! #plutoflyby
July 23, 2015
We're all fired up! The ATLAS team turned on Laser 1 yesterday, the first time since it and Laser 2 were installed on the instrument.
August 19, 2015
NASA will be giving you an in-depth look at what’s going on with sea level rise around the world - a question the ICESat missions are designed to investigate.
August 24, 2015
Want to learn more about ICESat-2? Check out our new NASA mission website: www.nasa.gov/icesat-2
August 25, 2015
Some of the ICESat-2 team -- including Paige the Penguin -- were in Greenland earlier this month!
August 28, 2015
The ICESat-2 mission was out in the field earlier this month, flying an airborne instrument over Greenland to study how green lasers interact with different types of snow and ice.
September 14, 2015
For the first time in its seven years of flights, NASA's Operation IceBridge is conducting overlapping campaigns in Antarctica and the Arctic.
September 18, 2015
How can Greenland's ice sheets still be more than 10,000 feet thick, if carbon dioxide is warming the planet? Kelly Brunt, a scientist working on the ICESat-2 mission, explains.
September 26, 2015
At Explore@NASAGoddard, visitors got to try on a scientist's polar jacket, check out an ice core and watch our glacier races.
October 15, 2015
What does record low Arctic sea ice mean for cloud cover & planetary energy balance? Find out with an Earth Science Week series of first-hand stories from NASA
October 22, 2015
Congratulations to OIB-North, which has completed its last science flight for the season!
November 06, 2015
ICESat-2’s spacecraft completed a significant risk-reduction testing program last week, to minimize the chance of technical issues uncovered later.
November 20, 2015
That's a nice looking rocket! The ICESat-2 decal has been added to our launch vehicle, being assembled by United Launch Alliance.
November 24, 2015
NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne survey of polar ice, recently finalized two overlapping campaigns at both of Earth’s poles.
December 10, 2015
Close enough doesn’t cut it in the cleanroom at NASA Goddard - so our engineers tested the instrument's pinpoint accuracy.
December 29, 2015
2015 saw many highlights at NASA Goddard - including the building and testing of ICESat-2's instrument, ATLAS.
February 02, 2016
NASA's ICESat-2 is equipped with a unique 3D manufactured part
February 11, 2016
Congratulations to the ATLAS team on their instrument assembly! Engineers fastened on the door - the final component.
February 19, 2016
Watch as ICESat-2's door is opened in an engineering test.
February 26, 2016
Thanks to the ICESat-2/SCAD Collaborative Student Project for the excellent design of our new banner, hanging by the Goddard clean room.
March 16, 2016
Get ready for a test! The ATLAS team moved the instrument into a chamber where it will undergo EMI/EMC testing.
March 17, 2016
ATLAS passed its Pre- Environmental Readiness Review -- a 2-day review, with 100s of slides presented to the review board.
March 28, 2016
2016 Arctic Sea Ice Wintertime Extent Hits Another Record Low.
April 16, 2016
EMI testing for ICESat-2's instrument, ATLAS, is complete! Next up - Acoustics & Vibration tests
April 18, 2016
The Operation IceBridge team is off to Greenland for its Spring 2016 Arctic Campaign
April 22, 2016
The ATLAS instrument was blasted with noise as NASA Goddard engineers conducted an acoustic test, designed to simulate the roar of a rocket launch
May 09, 2016
Gathering data to link ICESat and ICESat-2, Operation IceBridge continues flights over Greenland
June 02, 2016
ATLAS moves into the Thermal Vacuum Chamber at NASA Goddard to prepare for testing.
June 06, 2016
IceBridge completes its 2016 Arctic Spring campaign
June 15, 2016
ATLAS transfered for testing in the thermal vacuum chamber - timelapse
July 12, 2016
DC Environmental Film Fest visits Goddard
July 14, 2016
ICESat-2 visits the 'Chill Zone' at National Building Museum's Icebergs exhibit
July 19, 2016
Operation IceBridge just wrapped a sea ice campaign in Barrow that could help the ICESat-2 mission.
July 27, 2016
While NASA Operation IceBridge was in Barrow, Alaska, several of the pilots, scientists and flight crew visited a local summer camp.
August 16, 2016
NASA Monitors 'New Normal' of Sea Ice Melt
August 22, 2016
Take a look at the 'new normal' of melting sea ice
September 06, 2016
Science Flights Study Effect of Summer Melt on Greenland
September 14, 2016
What's in these crates? Our laser altimeter exhibit!
September 15, 2016
Arctic Sea Ice Annual Minimum Ties Second Lowest on Record
October 17, 2016
IceBridge is back flying over Antarctica for an 8th season - read all about the campaign's flight lines and instruments
October 19, 2016
New EO for Kids magazine features ICESat activity
October 31, 2016
ATLAS ships to Arizona for spacecraft integration & testing
November 08, 2016
As IceBridge flies its 2016 Antarctic campaign, scientists also collect spectacular photos
December 14, 2016
AGU Town Hall Meeting on ICESat-2
January 06, 2017
All together now! ICESat-2 is ready for testing, as engineers at Orbital ATK have attached the ATLAS laser instrument to the spacecraft.
February 09, 2017
Observatory Pre-Environmental Readiness Review passed at OrbitalATK in Arizona.
March 03, 2017
"Photon Jump," an animated short film created by students at SCAD, premiers
March 10, 2017
NASA’s Aerial Survey of Polar Ice Expands Its Arctic Reach
March 15, 2017
Feature: NASA's ICESat-2 to Provide More Depth to Sea Ice Forecasts
March 22, 2017
Sea Ice Extent Sinks to Record Lows at Both Poles
March 27, 2017
Engineering Feature: Timing a space laser with a NASA-style stopwatch
April 13, 2017
ICESat-2's height-measuring exhibit debuts at Baltimore's Port Discovery Children's Museum, where it will be spring 2017
June 16, 2017
ICESat-2 at Awesome Con in Washington DC with exhibit and Space Lasers Panel
July 23, 2017
ICESat-2 Mission at the Baltimore Artscape Festival 2017
July 25, 2017
Reading Public Museum Discovery Camp presentation on ICESat-2
August 16, 2017
ICESat-2 Preps for Flight Laser Tests
September 07, 2017
Go inside the ATLAS clean room at NASA Goddard in a Facebook Live
October 19, 2017
ICESat-2 passes Phase D review!
October 31, 2017
What’s spooky to an engineer? In our Chamber of Horrors, we put the satellite to the test
November 03, 2017
It's a Space Laser themed NASA Social at Goddard, featuring ICESat-2
November 03, 2017
Get to know ICESat-2 by the numbers!
November 28, 2017
Operation IceBridge flies over the Larsen C ice shelf
December 04, 2017
ICESat-2 heads south, to New Zealand and beyond to Antarctica, to collect ice sheet elevation measurements.
December 12, 2017
ICESat-2 campaign reaches Antarctica's McMurdo Station
December 14, 2017
Scientists will soon survey an unexplored stretch of Antarctic ice. The 470-mile expedition will provide the best assessment of the accuracy of ICESat-2's data.
December 19, 2017
ICESat-2 Antarctic campaign reaches the South Pole where they prepare for the traverse
December 26, 2017
It's Christmas at the South Pole, where ICESat-2 scientists assemble their gear
January 02, 2018
After building the sleds, tuning up the PistenBullys, and going for a couple of test drives, the ICESat-2 team sets out.
January 12, 2018
The 88S Antarctic campaign completes a successful traverse around the South Pole
January 16, 2018
Meet the team that traversed hundreds of miles across Antarctic to collect data for the ICESat-2 mission
January 23, 2018
Our Antarctic expedition team returns to McMurdo, where a small, self-sufficient town is designed specifically for science
February 03, 2018
The ICESat-2 Friends & Family Day brought 300 people to Goddard to see the ATLAS instrument, visit the testing facility, and to learn about the satellite and its science.
February 28, 2018
Before orbiting Earth faster than 15,000 mph, ATLAS began its journey toward space riding a truck from Maryland to Arizona, never exceeding 65 mph.
March 17, 2018
For St. Patrick's Day, take a look at some of the greens of our ATLAS laser
March 18, 2018
The ICESat-2 outreach team, with altimeter exhibit in tow, visited the Maker Faire in Northern Virginia
March 23, 2018
The second stage of ULA's Delta II rocket, which will launch ICESat-2, arrives at Vandenberg
March 30, 2018
Take a look back at our 88S Antarctic Traverse field campaign, part of the effort to ensure ICESat-2 data accuracy
April 06, 2018
Thousands of visitors learned about NASA science -- including ICESat-2 -- at the USA Science and Engineering Festival
April 08, 2018
We had some African Penguins from Sea World visiting the ICESat-2 Altimeter Exhibit today at the USA Science and Engineering Festival
April 27, 2018
NASA’s ICESat-2 mission wants to meet your favorite tree. Create a short video and it could be included in a NASA video on an upcoming citizen science project.
May 01, 2018
Our altimeter exhibit is now at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. Come check it out!
May 22, 2018
Our Delta II booster arrives at Vandenberg Air Force Base for checkouts and pre-flight processing
June 13, 2018
The ICESat-2 satellite arrives at Vandenberg AFB, three months ahead of its scheduled launch
July 06, 2018
Applications now open for a NASA Social during ICESat-2's launch on the final Delta II rocket
July 09, 2018
Engineers at Vandenberg AFB in California successfully finished the final ground-based test of the ATLAS lasers.
August 15, 2018
We're a month away from launch! As we count down to the liftoff of ICESat-2, our team is busy preparing the satellite
August 22, 2018
NASA is about to launch a space laser that will circle the Earth to measure ice. Find out more in our live show
August 28, 2018
As we count down the days to launch, we’re counting up 10 things you should know about ICESat-2
September 15, 2018
ICESat-2 Liftoff! A successful launch aboard the final Delta II, at 9:02am ET, Sept. 15
September 21, 2018
Week 1 update: ICESat2 is looking great! Solar array deployed, all subsystems turned on, and we’re busy checking everything out. Navigation works perfectly, guiding us along our planned orbit.
October 03, 2018
ICESat-2 laser fires for the first time, measures Antarctic ice sheet
October 12, 2018
Operation IceBridge, ICESat-2 Join Forces To Survey Antarctica
October 22, 2018
IceBridge has completed the first near-time underflight of ICESat-2, only missing the satellite's path over Antarctica by a few hours.
October 25, 2018
An IceBridge scientist took a 20-sec-exposure pic and caught the orbiting ICESat-2 over Drake Passage
November 19, 2018
Operation IceBridge 2018 Antarctic Field Campaign concludes after successful mission measuring changes in Antarctic sea and land ice, flying under ICESat-2 orbits to compare measurements
December 07, 2018
We passed our Post-Launch Acceptance and Operational Transition Reviews and are now officially in 'Phase E' as an operational mission.
December 11, 2018
3 months into the mission, and getting back amazing data of the height of ice, forests, and oceans. Here’s a first look, presented at AGU today.
December 30, 2018
ICESat-2 scientists set out on an Antarctic traverse along the 88 S latitude line, to check the satellite's measurements
January 23, 2019
ICESat-2 Scientists complete 88 South Traverse of Antarctica to collect reference elevation data
March 15, 2019
ICESat-2 6 Month Anniversary On-Orbit!
March 26, 2019
Citizen Science App Released to Measure Tree Height!
May 31, 2019
First ICESat-2 Global Data Released: Ice, Forests and More
July 19, 2019
ICESat-2 joined NASA for the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary on the National Mall
July 23, 2019
A Puzzle? ICESat-2 fans might recognize Earth Observatory query
September 15, 2019
ICESat-2 Celebrates First Birthday in Orbit
October 03, 2019
Laser Precision: NASA Flights, Satellite Align Over Sea Ice
October 07, 2019
ICESat-2 mission presence at Student STEAM event at Pecora 21 in Baltimore
October 23, 2019
Trees Around the GLOBE Student Research Campaign hits milestone of 10,000th tree height measurement
October 28, 2019
ICESat-2’s Deputy Project Scientist, Dr. Nathan Kurtz, returns from MOSAiC Expedition in the Arctic
October 28, 2019
ICESat-2 Science Team meets in Seattle
November 18, 2019
ICESat-2 Polar Applications Discovery Forum at the 3rd Polar Data Forum, Helsinki, Finland
December 11, 2019
Operation IceBridge completes 11 years of data collection connecting ICESat and ICESat-2 Missions
Click and drag a Year (e.g. 2015) to see more entries.
Use the dots to navigate through the timeline.
ICESat-2 is currently on-orbit. Find the ground trackshere.
Before beaming 300 miles to Earth’s surface, bouncing off the ground and travelling another 300 miles back into space, ICESat-2's laser photons first have to complete a 7½-foot obstacle course inside the satellite’s instrument.
To time how long it takes a pulse of laser light to travel from space to Earth and back, you need a really good stopwatch — one that can measure within a fraction of a billionth of a second
ICESat-2's laser is split into six beams, to better measure Earth's surface. Find out more here.
Meet Your Guides
Hang out with Paige and Pho in the FunZone! Learn all about the ICESat-2 mission through videos and activities.
ICESat-2 will use six laser beams to measure the height of ice, as illustrated in this not-to-scale artist's rendering. This illustration is an outcome of the ICESat-2/SCAD Collaborative Student Project.