Washington: With the arrival of NASA`s aircraft and scientists at the National Science Foundation`s McMurdo Station in Antarctica, the agency`s Operation IceBridge has begun its 2013 Antarctic field campaign.
The IceBridge mission will conduct daily survey flights through November 26 on a NASA P-3 research aircraft from a base of operations at McMurdo Station.
The P-3 usually is based at the agency`s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. As part of a multi-year project, researchers are collecting data on Antarctic land and sea ice.
Previous IceBridge Antarctic missions was conducted out of Punta Arenas, Chile.
"Flying from Antarctica will allow us to survey areas that had been unreachable from Chile," Michael Studinger, IceBridge project scientist at NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md said.
"There are many scientifically important areas we can now reach from McMurdo," he said.
IceBridge also plans to fly over areas of sea ice in and around the Ross Sea where there have been no airborne ice thickness measurements.
The scientists also will survey beneath the Ross Ice Shelf using a gravimeter, an instrument that can detect minute changes in gravitational fields below the aircraft.
These small changes help researchers determine the depth and shape of water cavities beneath floating ice.
The P-3 left Wallops November 11 carrying a suite of instruments, including laser altimeters, radars, cameras and gravity and magnetic field sensors.
The IceBridge team also has set up ground stations at McMurdo to collect global positioning system data.