Monday, June 25, 2012

Accurate topography of the seabed with CryoSat

The European Space Agency (ESA) will use its satellite CryoSat, and altimeter that incorporate, to monitor the seabed. Experts expect this mission, combined with three or more years of ocean mapping, will lead to a global seafloor topography (bathymetry) between two and four times more accurate than currently available measures.

Launched in 2010, CryoSat was put in orbit to measure the thickness of Arctic sea ice and sea level. But now the space agency has taken advantage of its components to a new study activity and achieve high-resolution mapping.

As pointed out by experts, the topography of the ocean surface mimics the ups and downs of the ocean, due to gravitational attraction. The areas of greatest mass, such as seamounts, have a stronger pull, attracting more water and produce a small increase in the height of the ocean surface. Therefore, instruments that measure sea surface can, at the same time, to map the seabed in areas unexplored.

Recently there have been several global gravity missions such as GOCE, ESA also, which provide very precise measurements of gravity on the spatial resolution of hundreds of kilometers. However, the difference is that the CryoSat radar altimeter can also perceive the gravity field on the surface of the ocean, so it is able to reveal the characteristics of the seabed at the scale of 5-10 km.

For Instución spokesman Scripps Oceanography, David Sandwell, a study is "very important" because, as indicated, "now known more about the surface of Venus and Mars than we know about the bathymetry of the deep oceans. "

So, has indicated that this "new assignment for CryoSat will revolutionize the understanding of the tectonics of the ocean, which could reveal the presence of about 10,000 previously unknown underwater volcanoes."

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