The European Space Agency (ESA) launch of an ambitious satellite that scientists hoped would gather unprecedented accurate data about polar ice and lead to new understanding of the effects of global warming failed on Saturday, and the 140 million euro satellite fell into the sea near the North Pole.
The satellite, called CryoSat, was blasted into space from the Plesetsk launch facility in northern Russia and was programmed to orbit about 430 miles above the earth.
It had been scheduled to spend three years surveying polar ice using radars which are able to assess both the comparatively thin sea ice in the polar regions and the miles-thick ice sheets that cover Greenland and the Antarctic land mass.
The satellite now lies on the sea floor beneath the icy waters it would have monitored for the next three years.
A Russian Rokot booster launched the CryoSat satellite from Plesetsk, a launch site in the north of European Russia late on Saturday.
The second stage failed to separate from the upper stage and the combined stack of the two stages and the satellite fell into the Arctic Ocean. There were no consequences to any populated areas, ESA said.
Yuri Bakhvalov, First Deputy Director General of the Khrunichev Space Centre on behalf of the Russian State Commission officially confirmed that the launch of CryoSat ended in a failure due to an anomaly in the launch sequence. He apologized and expressed his regret to ESA and all partners involved.