The views from the cockpit of NASA’s P-3B aircraft on an Operation IceBridge campaign are truly stunning. The mission doesn’t travel to both ends of the Earth for the scenery of course — the airborne mission is there to collect radar, laser altimetry, and other data on the changing ice sheets, glaciers, and sea ice of the Arctic and Antarctic. But for those of us who aren’t polar pilots, here’s a selection of some of the best footage from the forward and nadir cameras mounted to the aircraft taken during IceBridge’s spring deployment over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean.
IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland and Antarctic ice. Data collected during IceBridge will help scientists bridge the gap in polar observations between NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) — in orbit since 2003 — and ICESat-2, planned for late 2015. ICESat stopped collecting science data in 2009, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations. IceBridge will use airborne instruments to map Arctic and Antarctic areas once a year. The first IceBridge flights were conducted in March/May 2009 over Greenland and in October/November 2009 over Antarctica. Other smaller airborne surveys around the world are also part of the IceBridge campaign.