This photo of the Helheim Glacier on the east coast of Greenland was taken by NASA ER-2 pilot Stu Broce while the aircraft was flying at 65,000 feet altitude on a MABEL validation flight. (NASA / Stu Broce). › View Larger Image
Good Ice Sheet Data Obtained on MABEL Flights
A NASA ER-2 high-altitude Earth science aircraft has completed several more validation flights of the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experiment Lidar, or MABEL, over the past week from its deployment base in Keflavik, Iceland.
MABEL, developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, simulates a similar instrument planned for NASA's IceSat-2 environmental satellite scheduled for launch in 2016. The current flights with MABEL on the ER-2 help validate the technology to be used on the instrument being developed for the satellite.
A 6.4-hour high-priority mission April 10 was coordinated with NASA's P-3B Orion flying an Operation IceBridge mission from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. The two aircraft rendezvoused over the Greenland Sea and jointly flew the same flight path, separated by 59,000 feet altitude, while the MABEL and instruments aboard the P-3 recorded data on sea ice thickness and elevation.
From mid-March through mid-May, the modified P-3 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., is conducting IceBridge missions out of Thule and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, to measure sea and land ice.
Another 7.7-hour MABEL data validation mission April 12 took the ER-2 over northwest Greenland near Thule. The area was clear of clouds, enabling good data on the thickness and elevation of Greenland ice sheets to be collected.
Another MABEL validation flight April 14 was truncated due to an on-board data-recording malfunction with the MABEL instrument, according to reports from ER-2 project manager Tim Moes and senior deployment representative Tim Williams.
A follow-up flight April 15 over an Icelandic glacier and calibration targets showed that MABEL was again recording data properly, as were several other science instruments installed on the aircraft.
"We had an excellent ER-2 mission today out of Keflavik, imaging Iceland glaciers," Moes reported. "All sensors appeared to work well."
Learn more about the 2012 Operation IceBridge Arctic campaign at:
Beth Hagenauer, Public Affairs
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center