Copernicus polaR Ice and Snow Topography ALtimeter (CRISTAL) is a potential futur altimetry mission dedicated to the cryosphere monitoring, as a futur component of the Copernicus constellation.

The mission brings high expectations with an innovative altimeter using dual Ku/Ka frequency bands, to accurately measure  the snow depth over ice covered surfaces. In addition, the altimeter will be able to operate in Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometric (SARIn) mode, providing optimal performances over the irregular topography of the Antarctic & Greenland ice sheets.

The ESA “PolarMonitoring” project is dedicated to the preparation of the CRISTAL mission. In particular, it aims at addressing the following problematics:

  • A review of the user requirements for the cryosphere monitoring, and also for oceanic applications (missions secondary objective)
  • Based on the user requirements, a consolidation of the mission requirements (list of L1/L2 products, ground segment algorithms selection, satellite orbite…)
  • A performance review based on data simulated with innovative numerical tools. A specific and innovative effort is put on realistically simulate the interaction between the radar signal and the snow.