Spacecraft that would assess state of world's ice cover to launch in February 2010

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London, September 15 (ANI): The European space agency's (ESA's) mission, the Cryosat spacecraft, which would assess the state of the world's ice cover, is likely to launch in February 2010.

According to a report by BBC News, the Cryosat spacecraft will go into orbit on a Dnepr rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, ESA announced.

The satellite is a rebuild of the mission that was destroyed in 2005 when its launcher failed just minutes into its flight.

Cryosat-2's radar instrument will make detailed maps of the ice that covers both sea and land at the poles.

Data from other satellites, such as the US Icesat and the European ERS/Envisat missions, has already indicated that some of this cover is diminishing at a rapid rate in response to climate change, with the biggest melting occurring in the Arctic.

Cryosat will add significantly to the information scientists already possess, making observations that are beyond the current generation of spacecraft.

The completed Cryosat-2 is undergoing final checks at the IABG technical centre in Ottobrunn near Munich, Germany, a test facility used by satellite manufacturers.

Mission managers are targeting February 28 for a launch.

The inability of the ESA to loft its satellites at a time of its choosing should become less of a problem when it has access to its new Vega rocket.

Vega, which will operate out of Europe's Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, has been designed specifically to carry small institutional payloads such as Cryosat to orbit.

However, the rocket is not expected to enter into service until the middle of next year.

Cryosat-2 is part of ESA's Earth Explorer programme - seven spacecraft that will do innovative science in obtaining data on issues of pressing environmental concern. (ANI)

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