Advanced Thin Films Optics Launched on NASA Satellite Monitoring Global Ice

Company News

October 24, 2018

When NASA launched a new satellite last month to study the effects of climate change, nearly 500 highly sensitive optics from IDEX’s Advanced Thin Films (ATF) were on board.

Now orbiting the earth, the ICESat-2 satellite is using seven lasers, combined with the ATF sensors, to measure how the height and thickness of ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice are changing over time. The ICESat-2 satellite promises to give scientists more precise measurements than ever before.

The ATF optics are part of a system called ATLAS, or Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System, which can monitor changes within four millimeters. Boulder, CO-based ATF worked for six years on the NASA project.

“The ATF team is proud to be part of groundbreaking NASA missions that provide information about our changing planet,” Chief Technologist Dr. Darren Berns said. “We continue to look for opportunities where our internal process development aligns well with the needs of the scientific community – particularly where our contributions follow our corporate ethos of “Trusted Solutions, Improving lives.”

While focused on changes to the polar ice caps – the cryosphere – the satellite will also measure other regions of the earth. Findings are expected to lead to better forecasts of rising sea levels.

“With this mission we continue humankind’s exploration of the remote polar regions of our planet and advance our understanding of how ongoing changes of Earth’s ice cover at the poles and elsewhere will affect lives around the world, now and in the future,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement.

To see more about the ICESat-2 satellite, check out this NASA video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQg5ov6zths