NASA’s Operation IceBridge closed out its 2012 Antarctic season with two surveys of Antarctic glaciers and two long-awaited flights over sea ice in the Weddell Sea. These four flights bring the airborne science campaign to a successful end with a total of 16 science missions and a total mileage equivalent to more than three times around the Earth’s equator. In addition, researchers on the DC-8 answered questions from students in several U.S. states and Chile by text chat through the aircraft’s communication system.
On Nov. 2, IceBridge mission planners reached into the playbook for a high-priority mission in a high-priority region. When the IceBridge science team met earlier this year to plan Antarctic campaign flights, they categorized each flight based on the survey’s priority and the priority of the region each target is in. After takeoff and transit, the IceBridge DC-8 began a grid survey of the upper part of the Filchner Ice Shelf just offshore of Recovery Glacier. By flying back-and-forth lines spaced 12 miles apart, IceBridge researchers were able to gather data that will enable researchers to calculate the bathymetry, or water depth, below the floating ice in this area. In addition, the gravimeter aboard the DC-8 collected high-altitude gravity readings over the southern Weddell Sea.