Since Oct. 26, researchers have been making flights over Antarctica on NASA's DC-8 flying science laboratory to map ice surfaces and the features hidden below. Data collected are critical for understanding the dynamics of ice in West Antarctica and its impact on sea-level rise.
The flights are part of NASA's Operation IceBridge mission, wrapping up its second year of field campaigns at the end of November. The aircraft, crew and instrument teams are based in Punta Arenas, Chile, where they make flights -- weather permitting -- to the remote continent. Once there, teams operate any of the seven instruments to characterize the snow, ice, and bedrock.
On Wednesday, Nov. 17, On Thursday, Nov. 18, IceBridge scientists will be on hand from the field to answer your questions about the mission. Joining the chat is easy. Simply visit this page on Wednesday, Nov. 17 Thursday, Nov. 18, from 1 to 2 p.m. EST. The chat window will open at the bottom of this page starting at 12:30 p.m. EST. You can log in and be ready to ask questions at 1 p.m. The time and date is subject to change due to changes in the flight schedule to meet requirements for good weather over science targets.
More About IceBridge Scientists and their workhorse, the DC-8
Project scientist Michael Studinger, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., makes sure missions run smoothly. The mission also includes scientists, crew and technicians from Goddard; Wallops Flight Facility, in Wallops Island, Va.; NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.; NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; The Earth Institute at Columbia University in Palisades, N.Y.; the University of Kansas; and the University of Washington.
NASA's DC-8 is a modified jetliner that supports instruments used to collect data for field research. Some instruments on the DC-8 complement measurements made by satellites, providing a close up look at specific regions, while other instruments are intended only for aircraft. The DC-8 has made Arctic and Antarctic flights in 2009 and 2010.