Thursday, November 26, 2009

Operation Ice Bridge Concludes; DC-8 Returns to Palmdale


NASA's DC-8 flying science laboratory returned to its base at NASA's Dryden Flight Operations Center in Palmdale, Calif., Nov. 24, ending this fall's Operation Ice Bridge science campaign to survey and map glaciers, sea ice and ice sheets on Antarctica.

The aircraft departed Santiago, Chile, early Nov. 24 with air sampling sensors collecting data en route to California. Five instruments were operational on the aircraft during the more than 11-hour flight from Chile to Los Angeles International Airport, with atmospheric chemistry samples collected at altitudes up to 40,000 feet. After briefly stopping at the Los Angeles airport to clear U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the DC-8 and its complement of scientists and flight crew flew the short 25-minute flight north to NASA Dryden's Palmdale facility.

The aircraft flew more than 210 flight hours on more than 20 data collection and transit flights during the Operation Ice Bridge campaign, most flights of more than 10 hours duration.

Atmospheric chemistry instruments operating on the transit flight from Chile included:

* NASA Langley Research Center's Differential Absorption CO (carbon monoxide) Measurement, or DACOM, sensor is a laser that measures several gases.
* A second NASA Langley instrument, the Atmospheric Vertical Observations of Carbon Dioxide in the Earth's Troposphere, or AVOCET, measures carbon dioxide with an infrared analyzer.
* The University of California at Irvine's Whole Air Sampler collects gases in tubes stored in racks on the aircraft and analyzes the samples using gas chromatography.
* The University of California at Santa Cruz's Position and Orientation system provide precision attitude and position data for several instruments on the DC-8.
* The University of Ohio's Digital Mapping System provides geo-rectified nadir imagery.

An additional flight using two of the instruments employed during Operation Ice Bridge is planned over Southern California the first week in December. The Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor developed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the primary instrument for this flight, will complete topographical mapping of the San Andreas Fault. The Airborne Topographical Mapper will undergo a post-deployment calibration during the flight.


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