Overview of the ICESat Mission





Citation of Original Publication

Schutz, B. E., Zwally, H. J., Shuman, C. A., Hancock, D., and DiMarzio, J. P. (2005), Overview of the ICESat Mission, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L21S01, doi:10.1029/2005GL024009.


This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
Public Domain Mark 1.0



The Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) on the NASA Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) has provided a view of the Earth in three dimensions with unprecedented accuracy. Although the primary objectives focus on polar ice sheet mass balance, the GLAS measurements, distributed in 15 science data products, have interdisciplinary application to land topography, hydrology, vegetation canopy heights, cloud heights and atmospheric aerosol distributions. Early laser life issues have been mitigated with the adoption of 33-day operation periods, three times per year, designed to document intra- and inter-annual polar ice changes in accordance with mission requirements. A variety of calibration/validation experiments have been executed which show that the elevation products, when fully calibrated, have an accuracy that meets the science requirements. The series of papers in this special ICESat issue demonstrate the utility and quality of the ICESat data.