NASA Ice Campaign Takes Flight in Antarctica

Icebridge mission patch

Ice Bridge mission patch

10/8/2009

This fall, 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, a six-year campaign of annual flights to both of the Earth's polar regions.

Starting in November, NASA will fly its DC-8, a 157-foot-long airborne laboratory that can accommodate many instruments. The fall 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.

The plane is scheduled to leave NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., on October 12 and fly to Punta Arenas, Chile, where the plane, crew and researchers will be based for through mid-November. For six weeks, the Ice Bridge team will traverse the Southern Ocean for up to 17 flights over West Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula, and coastal areas where sea ice is prevalent. Each round-trip flight lasts about 11 hours, two-thirds of that time devoted to getting to and from Antarctica.

Operation Ice Bridge is a six-year campaign of annual flights to each of Earth's polar regions. The first flights in March and April carried researchers over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean.

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