In contrast to the ICESat design, ICESat-2 will use a micro-pulse multi-beam approach. This provides dense cross-track sampling to resolve surface slope on an orbit basis. The sensor will have a high pulse repetition rate of 10 kHz (exact number stil TBD) which generates dense along-track sampling of about 70 cm. This concept has advantages over ICESat of improved elevation estimates over high slope areas and very rough (e.g. crevassed) areas and improved lead detection for sea ice freeboard estimates.
The ICESat-2 mission is slated to become an integral part of NASA's Earth-observing fleet of satellites. The Operation IceBridge airborne campaigns will continue until ICESat-2 is launched and operational.