NASA's Airborne Shots Of The Springtime Arctic Are Jaw-Droppingly Spectacular

Steep icefall in front of a collection of mingled ice types, something known as an ice melange. NASA/Joe MacGregor

All flights involved NASA’s P-3 Orion plane, equipped with infrared, photographic, and radar-based imagery that provides researchers with an opportunity to determine temperatures, topographical changes, and more. This fresh information will be compared to previous flights’ data, which when put together will help scientists determine how ice cover has changed over time.

Remnants of a research camp, including a damaged Twin Otter plane, can be spotted here. NASA/James Jacobson

The briefest of looks at the project’s official website reveals how busy the program has been. Maps covered in multicolored lines reveal hotspots of research, including the Antarctic Peninsula and much of the entirety of the coastline of Greenland.

Arctic IceBridge missions, as of 2017. NASA
Antarctic flight trajectories, as of 2017. NASA

ICESat-2, the successor to the original, will begin operations this September, and these flights are to be the last to occur before then. Don’t fret, though; NASA aren’t going to suddenly just throw IceBridge in the dustbin of scientific history. At present, the 2009-launched project is funded through to 2020.

The P-3 Orion aircraft that conducted the latest flyovers. NASA/Jim Yungel


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