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NASA’s P-3 Begins 2017 with IceBridge Support

NASA’s P-3 departed from Wallops Flight Facility, Va., at 6:15 a.m., March 7, 2017, traveling to Thule Air Base in Greenland to support ice survey studies as part of the Operation IceBridge mission.

The spring IceBridge campaign will take the P-3 to Greenland, Norway, and Alaska over the next 10 weeks. The P-3 last flew with IceBridge on their 2013 Arctic campaign, during which the aircraft made flights out of both Kangerlussuaq and Thule, Greenland.

The back end of the P-3 airplane with a hangar in the background.
The NASA P-3 Orion aircraft is prepared for an early morning departure March 7 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia heading for Greenland in support of Operation IceBridge. Over the next 10 weeks, science teams will survey polar ice over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean from Norway to Alaska. In its ninth year, the mission of Operation IceBridge is to collect data on changing polar land and sea ice and maintain continuity of measurements between ICESat missions. ICESAT completed its mission in 2009 and ICESAT 2 is scheduled for launch in 2018.
NASA/Patrick Black
Inside the P-3 plane showing a row of cargo on one side and equipment racks on the other.
Gear and equipment is stowed inside the NASA P-3 Orion aircraft for the 10-week Operation IceBridge mission.
NASA/ Patrick Black

It’s the P-3’s first IceBridge mission with a new set of wings and tail. These upgrades, completed in 2016, will extend the life of NASA’s P-3 up to 40 years.

NASA’s P-3 is a four-engine turboprop based out of Wallops and capable of long duration flights of 8-12 hours. It is supporting the same suite of IceBridge instruments flown in the past IceBridge Arctic and Antarctic campaigns.

“The configuration of the NASA P-3 includes instrumentation attached to the aircraft as we maneuver this large vehicle approximately 1,500 feet above the surface, mimicking the satellite flight lines through the glacier flow,” said NASA pilot Mark Russell.

“We are excited to fly the IceBridge mission again from Wallops. We completed this mission in previous years, and now with the re-wing and new tail added to the P-3, the team is prepared and ready to go again,” said Wallops Aircraft Office Chief Werner Winz.

The NASA P-3 Orion aircraft departs the Wallops Facility as the sun rises in the early morning.
NASA/ Patrick Black

More information on Operation IceBridge is available at:

Sam Henry
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia



Last Updated
Dec 06, 2023