The ICESat-2 laser will pulse 10,000 times a second; each pulse will release about 20 trillion photons. Only about a dozen photons hit Earth’s surface and return to the satellite.
ICESat-2's laser wavelength is 532 nanometers - a bright shade of green.
ICESat-2's solid-state data recorder will store at least 580 gigabits of data a day. That's enough to store 26 hours of HD video.
The North Pole is frozen sea ice surrounded by land.
The South Pole is ice-covered land, surrounded by ocean.
If it flew over a football field, the first ICESat would have taken a measurement outside each end zone; ICESat-2 would take measurements within each yard line.
The cryosphere includes sea ice, ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica, glaciers, permafrost and more.
ICESat-2's data will be downloaded to ground stations in Svalbard, Norway, and Wallops Island, Virginia, about once every two orbits using a 220 megabit X-band downlink connection...about 10 times faster than your cable internet connection.
ICESat-2's onboard systems are capable of calculating the satellite's position within 16 feet (5 meters).
ICESat-2's orbital path will repeat every 91 days. This means that ICESat-2 will measure a grid of the entire Earth every 3 months.
ICESat-2 flies at 4.3 miles per second, relative to the ground. That's longer than 70 football fields, put end-to-end, in one second.
Each solar panel on ICESat-2's panel array is capable of generating an average of 1320 Watts. That's enough to power 22 60-Watt light bulbs.