The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) launched the ICESat-2 satellite, which serves to analyze with high precision changes in the mass of polar ice on Earth.
The satellite took off aboard the Delta 2 rocket from the Vandenberg area base (California) at 6.02 local time (13.02 GMT).
"Fly free! Confirm satellite separation from the launch rocket," the space agency said in its Twitter account minutes after the launch.
The ICESat-2 will measure the change in the annual level of the land ice sheet covering Greenland and Antarctica, capturing 60,000 measurements per second.
The objective is to "expand and improve" NASA's research of the last 15 years on the change of polar ice, which began in 2003 with the first ICESat mission and continued in 2009 with Operation Ice Bridge.
"ICESat-2 represents a major technological leap in our ability to measure changes in ice height. Its Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back," NASA said.
ATLAS will shoot 10,000 times per second, sending hundreds of trillions of photons to the polar surface.
Thanks to this, ICESat-2, a "much more detailed" view of the ice surface than its predecessor, ICESat.
As the Earth of the pole circulates, the new satellite calculates the ice heights along the same itinerary in the Polar Regions four times a year; it offers a seasonal and annual control of the changes in the surface.
In recent years, the melting of the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica has reached the global sea level by more than one million per year, representing approximately one third of the observed increase in sea level, and the rate "is increasing", according to NASA.
The goal of the US agency is that ICESat-2 data help researchers reduce the range of uncertainty in predictions of future sea level rise and connect to climate changes.
So far, NASA has routinely measured the area covered by sea ice and has observed a decline of that type in the Arctic from around 40 percent since 1980.