The icy expanse of Greenland was evident in this photo from the cockpit of NASA ER-2 No. 806 as it cruised at 62,000 feet altitude on its transit flight to Iceland April 2. (NASA / Tim Williams) › View Larger Image
After an all-night flight from its home base in Palmdale, Calif., a NASA ER-2 high-altitude environmental science aircraft arrived in Keflavik, Iceland late Monday morning to begin a series of flights over the next five weeks that are intended to validate the accuracy of a new laser altimeter named MABEL.
Still clad in his high-altitude pressure suit, NASA Dryden research pilot Tim Williams was interviewed by Iceland Television shortly after his arrival at Keflavik International Airport in the NASA ER-2 being guided into the hangar behind him. (NASA photo) › View Larger Image The long-winged ER-2, flown by NASA research pilot Tim Williams, departed its base at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility adjacent to Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday PDT and arrived more than nine hours later at Keflavik International Airport. That transit flight had been delayed for several days due to bad weather over Iceland and high winds in Palmdale.
MABEL, an acronym for the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experiment Lidar, was developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to simulate a similar instrument planned for NASA's IceSat-2 environmental satellite that is scheduled for launch in 2016.
The instrument was operating during a portion of the flight over sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet, and initial reports indicate the data received looks promising, according to a report from mission manager Chris Jennison. The first dedicated science mission was scheduled for Wednesday, April 4.
Although not directly connected to the Spring 2012 Operation IceBridge Arctic polar ice survey flights being staged out of Greenland, the ER-2 flights will be conducted concurrently with many of the same flight tracks flown by IceBridge mission aircraft.
Learn more about the advanced MABEL laser altimeter.