Glaciers like the one in the Wrangell mountains visible in the lower right of the photo above were one of the targets of the GLISTIN-A radar imaging mission flown by NASA's C-20A over Alaska April 24-27. (NASA / JPL Delwyn Moller)
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The NASA Dryden flight crew that supported the C-20A deployment to Alaska included (from left) mechanic Gary Carlson, C-20A project manager John McGrath, avionics technician Carlos Meza, operations engineer Brittany Martin, and pilots Dean Neeley and Tim Williams. (NASA) › View Larger Image Glaciers, sea ice and snow were the focus of a recent airborne Earth science study using NASA's Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR). The UAVSAR is mounted in a pod under the belly of NASA's Dryden-based C-20A research aircraft that flew over Alaska, the Beaufort Sea and the Sierra Nevada range during this data collection mission.
The UAVSAR uses a technique called interferometry to detect and measure very subtle deformations in Earth's surface. For this mission, the UAVSAR was adapted for single-pass interferometry for measuring ice-surface topography.
The research is part of the Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer – Airborne (GLISTIN-A) effort conducted by scientist Delwyn Moller of Remote Sensing Solutions at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The UAVSAR initially collected UAVSAR Ka-band data in 2009 with a focus on ice research, and this mission recorded the first science data since the UAVSAR system was recently upgraded.
"Now we have a wealth of data to work with that promises to be very exciting on multiple fronts," remarked Moller. "The flights went smoothly and the vistas were truly awe-inspiring!"
The C-20A and science team departed its home base at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., April 24, returning April 27. During the deployment, the aircraft flew five missions for a total of 26.3 flight hours. The aircraft flew from Eielson Air Force Base south of Fairbanks, Alaska, while collecting data over the Arctic. The April 27 flight of more than five hours was the 600th flight for the C-20A, a military version of the Gulfstream III aircraft, since it was acquired by NASA.
NASA Dryden's C-20A carrying JPL's UAVSAR radar system taxis by a large hangar and control tower April 25 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The aircraft was stationed at Eielson during its four-day GLISTIN-A radar survey mission to record data on the topography of glaciers and ice sheets in areas like the Beaufort Sea north of Barrow, Alaska. (USAF / Sr. Amn. Zachary Perras) › View Larger Image