The Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, is measuring the height of a changing Earth one laser pulse at a time, 10,000 laser pulses per second. Launched on September 15, 2018, ICESat-2 will allow scientists to monitor the elevation of ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice, and more—all in unprecedented detail.

 ICESat-2 Elevates Our View of Earth

Sea Ice


25 March 2022

The ICESat-2 mission, at the recommendation of the Satellite Needs Working Group, has released a subset of ATLAS/ICESat-2 data sets that will be available at an expedited latency. 

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ICESat-2 data at NSIDC DAAC


ICESat-2 collects elevation data over all surfaces spanning the world's frozen regions, forests, lakes, urban areas, and more. These data are downlinked to Earth, reformatted, checked for quality, repackaged into scientific data sets, and delivered to the NSIDC DAAC for distribution and archive.

Learn more about all the ICESat-2 data sets at the NSIDC DAAC.

The Mission

The Mission

Our planet's frozen and icy areas, known as the cryosphere, are a key focus of NASA Earth science research. ICESat-2 will help scientists investigate why, and how much, the cryosphere is changing as the climate warms. The satellite will also measure heights across Earth's temperate and tropical regions and take stock of vegetation in forests worldwide.

Learn all about the ICESat-2 mission at the NASA Goddard Spaces Flight Center.

Operation IceBridge plane

ICESat and Operation IceBridge

From 2003 to 2009, the ICESat mission obtained elevation data over ice sheets, information about clouds in polar regions, and topography and vegetation data around the globe. Following ICESat, NASA began Operation IceBridge, a series of airborne campaigns to measure changes to polar land and sea ice and provide continuity between ICESat and ICESat-2. The NSIDC DAAC distributes ICESat and Operation IceBridge data.

Get ICESat/GLAS data
Get Operation IceBridge data


Launch Details

ICESat-2 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base on September 15, 2018 at 6:02 AM (PT), on board United Launch Alliance's final Delta II rocket.

ICESat-2 Successfully Launched on Final Flight of Delta II Rocket