This fall, NASA’s Operation IceBridge will base its annual Antarctic campaign out of National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station, a change from the mission’s previous four campaigns that were based in Punta Arenas, Chile. By switching bases of operations, IceBridge will be able to expand its reach by measuring parts of Antarctica previously unavailable to the mission.
“Antarctica is a big place and there are many science targets for us to hit,” said Tom Wagner, cryosphere program scientist at NASA headquarters, Washington. This change comes after nearly a year of planning and collaboration between NASA and the National Science Foundation or NSF, to ensure that the station could support IceBridge’s personnel, equipment and aircraft requirements.
NSF oversees all U.S.-based scientific expeditions in Antarctica and the U.S. Antarctic Program and Antarctic Service Contract manage operations at McMurdo Station. Because of this, IceBridge planners worked closely with NSF, U.S. Antarctic Program and Antarctic Service Contract personnel to arrange the upcoming campaign. “It is fantastic to see how NSF, ASC, the Air National Guard and NASA have worked together to make this happen,” said Michael Studinger, IceBridge’s project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “The NASA P-3 adds tremendous capabilities to the existing suite of research aircraft that have been used for science data collection over Antarctica.”
“The initial challenge was trying to comprehend and identify all of the requirements, constraints and factors of operating science instruments and a wheeled aircraft in a complex and remote environment,” said Christy Hansen, IceBridge’s project manager at NASA Goddard. “We’ve been working on this in the background during our last two campaigns.”
Rad more at: Phys.org