The European Space Agency (ESA) has delayed the launch of the CryoSat-2 due to concerns over the second stage steering engine of the Dnepr rocket.

The fuel reserve of the second stage engine is not large enough, according to Yuzhnoye, which was responsible for the development of the launcher.

Equipped with a all-weather microwave radar altimeter the 700kg satellite will precisely monitor changes in the thickness of sea ice and variations in the thickness of the ice sheets on land, while flying in an inclined polar orbit.

The data will aid the understanding of how the Earth’s ice is changing in response to climate change.

CryoSat will be the third of ESA’s Earth-explorer satellites in orbit, following the gravity field and steady-state ocean circulation explorer (GOCE) and the soil moisture and ocean salinity (SMOS) systems.

The satellite was initially scheduled for launch on 25 February 2010.