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IceBridge - Antarctica 2009

    11.18.09

    A Tour of the Antarctic Cryosphere


    The flight on Nov. 16 took scientists through a tour of the Antarctic cryosphere, including this look at a steep valley on the Peninsula.

    Image Credit: Michael Studinger, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

    The flight on Nov. 16 took scientists through a tour of the Antarctic cryosphere, including this look at a steep valley on the Peninsula. Small caps of stagnant ice cover the summits while the ice in the valley moves quickly towards the coast.

    Read more about Ice Bridge's 20th Antarctic flight in a blog post from Michael Studinger, co-principal investigator on the gravimeter team.



    11.10.09

    17th Flight Surveyed Snout of PIG


    Flight over Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier (PIG)

    Image Credit: Jim Yungel/NASA

    During the 17th Antarctic flight, Ice Bridge crew flew dense grid of straight flight lines near the snout of PIG, Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier. The flight pattern permitted the gravity instrument on board to obtain higher resolution measurements than were collected during previous flights over this region, reported program manager Jim Yungel of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Radar instruments, camera systems and an atmospheric gas sensor also made measurements throughout this mission.



    11.06.09

    Flights Explore Northern Peninsula


    Many glaciers could be seen during the Operation Ice Bridge flight on Nov. 4, 2009.

    Image Credit: Jim Yungel/NASA

    Weather on Wednesday, Nov. 4, led to a last-minute adjustment of the Ice Bridge flight plan. Clouds would have interfered with high-altitude measurements, so the team opted for a low-altitude flight over the Antarctic Peninsula where they collected data from over the Larsen Ice Shelf and nearby glaciers (above).

    Ideal weather on Nov. 5 allowed crew and researchers to resume the high-altitude flight. Using the Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor (LVIS), scientists mapped a wide swath of the northern Antarctic Peninsula with a set of "cut the grass" flight lines, according to program manager Jim Yungel of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Weather on Nov. 6 precluded flights to the remaining science targets, but forecasters in Punta Arenas continued to monitor the conditions.



    10.28.09

    Antarctic Airborne Science Mission Nears Mid-Point


    Sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea in West Antarctica. Sea ice is seen out the window of NASA's DC-8 research aircraft on Oct. 21, 2009, as it flies 2,000 feet above the Bellingshausen Sea in West Antarctica. This was the fourth science flight of NASA's Operation Ice Bridge airborne Earth science mission to study Antarctic ice sheets, sea ice and ice shelves. Credit: NASA/Jane Peterson
    Larger Image
    PUNTA ARENAS, Chile – With seven science flights over Antarctica completed in the first 13 days of Operation Ice Bridge’s first southern campaign in NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory, the mission is on track to complete its planned flights by mid-November.

    The mission has 17 planned flights over different parts of the continent, focusing on the ice sheet, glaciers, and sea ice in West Antarctica. Which flight target is flown on a given day is largely determined by difficult-to-forecast Antarctic weather conditions. Several of the instruments onboard cannot gather data through clouds. Twice so far, however, flights have been scrubbed at the last minute due to snow at the airport in southernmost Chile.

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    10.27.09

    Sea Ice Observed Despite Ice Fog


    Crew and researchers gathered in front of the DC-8 before an early morning flight on Oct. 24, to measure sea ice in the Weddell Sea.

    Image Credit: NASA/Steve Cole

    Crew and researchers gathered in front of the DC-8 before an early morning flight on Oct. 24, to measure sea ice in the Weddell Sea. The mission was the fifth flight of Operation Ice Bridge since the Antarctic campaign began.

    Just prior to flight, teams scrambled to evaluate satellite images, forecast models, wind and pressure information that all indicated the possibility of encountering clouds and ice fog. Such conditions can block the successful collection of sea ice measurements.

    The decision to fly paid off, as morning and mid-flight patches of clouds and fog broke long enough for the lasers to capture steady measurements of sea ice over most of the flight paths. Lasers on the Airborne Topographic Mapper systems collected about 216 million elevation measurements.



    10.23.09

    LVIS Maps Pine Island Glacier


    Seelye Martin studies data during the campaign's science flight to Pine Island Glacier.

    Image Credit: NASA/Jane Peterson, NSERC

    Operation Ice Bridge project scientist Seelye Martin, from the University of Washington, Seattle, studies data on Tuesday, Oct. 20, during the campaign's flight to Pine Island Glacier.

    Grounded Monday, Oct. 19, by snow and ice, the DC-8 flew its third science flight on Tuesday. The team mapped much of Pine Island Glacier with the Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor (LVIS) from more than 35,000 feet in altitude, making passes over the glacier in a flight path called "mowing the lawn." Heavy stratus clouds blocked the laser's view for the upper third of the planned flight lines, leading the crew to limit flight lines to areas with clear sky. Still, LVIS team reported getting good data over the lower half of the glacier.

    For more, view our Webisodes on YouTube.



    10.20.09

    Snowy Night Grounds Flight


    NASA DC-8 sits on the runway in the snow.

    Image Credit: Stefan Elieff/Sander Geophysics

    An unusual snowfall on Monday, Oct. 19, grounded the DC-8’s third flight from Punta Arenas, Chile. The flight was rescheduled and took off Tuesday, Oct. 20, for Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier. The goal: fly a laser mapping instrument up and down the glacier in close, parallel lines, to get a topographic map of the area.

    Read more about the flight on Twitter.



    10.19.09

    Completion of First Wave of Flights to Antarctica


    Antarctic Sea Ice

    Image Credit: NASA

    On Oct. 16, Operation Ice Bridge researchers and crew completed the first flight of the Antarctic campaign. During the flight, along Amundsen Coast, the aircraft’s downward-looking Digital Mapping System camera captured this image of sea ice from an altitude of at least 20,000 feet. The second flight, to Pine Island Glacier, wrapped up Oct. 18. For detailed flight information and images, visit the Operation Ice Bridge blog.



    10.15.09

    Antarctic Sea Ice Awaits NASA Flights


    A satellite view of Antarctica's sea ice concentration on Oct. 12 shows varying degrees of ice coverage

    Image Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

    A satellite view of Antarctica's sea ice concentration on October 12 shows varying degrees of ice coverage, from 15 to 100 percent. A close up look will be achieved with NASA's Operation Ice Bridge's science flights, which are just about to begin. Data collected with airborne radar and laser instruments will provide information about surface elevation, snow depth and ice thickness. Other primary targets include ice sheets and glaciers.

    Read more about Antarctica's sea ice on the Operation Ice Bridge blog.



    09.28.09

    NASA Ice Campaign Takes Flight in Antarctica


    Early in the 20th century, a succession of adventurers and scientists pioneered the exploration of Antarctica. A century later, they're still at it, albeit with a different set of tools. This October/November, a team of modern explorers will fly over Earth's southern ice-covered regions to study changes to its sea ice, ice sheets, and glaciers as part of NASA's Operation Ice Bridge.

    NASA will fly its DC-8, a 157-foot-long airborne laboratory that can accommodate many instruments. The Antarctic 2009 campaign is one of few excursions to the remote continent made by the DC-8, the largest aircraft in NASA's airborne science fleet.

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Antarctic 2009 Campaign

    West Antarctica 2009
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