National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Wallops Flight Facility


IceBridge Media Library

During OIB’s eleven years, the NASA Goddard Media Studios have collected many photos and videos of and about the Arctic and Antarctic.  They are now available in one location

The Last IceBridge ATM Field Campaign

The ATM has been mapping polar ice since 1993.  The ATM surveys were expanded during 2009-2019 under Operation IceBridge (OIB).  The ATM suite of instruments were augmented and updated during those eleven years, and are ready to fly the next era of science surveys.  Take a look back at some highlights of OIB.

Assateague on the Move

NASA Earth Observatory featured the changing shoreline near ATM’s home base at Wallops Flight Facility and referred to ATM’s beach mapping work two decades ago.


“I spend a lot of time going in and out of Chincoteague inlet on my boat, and I have watched the inlet and islands change pretty dramatically over the past 20 years,” said Kyle Krabill, a research engineer at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Krabill, his colleagues, and his father have been observing these shores for decades as they have tested lidar instruments that are ultimately used to study ice. “I have always been interested in these coastal processes and think it’s really neat to watch them move around in our timescale.”

ATM validates ICESat-2 sea ice freeboard

ATM validation of ICESat-2 during the spring 2019 IceBridge campaign was described recently in Geophysical Research Letters. The precision guidance of ATM’s CDI system put the aircraft (and the ATM lidars) exactly over the satellite ground track while ATM’s CAMBOT system recorded contiguous photographs of the sea ice below.  Read more of the story from NASA, or watch the video.

Summer Lakes

John Sonntag’s photo from the September 4, 2019 IceBridge survey in Greenland was featured as an Image of the Day by NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Footprints and FLIR

The thermal FLIR camera helps classify ice types, and sometimes finds muskoxen.

The Laser That’s Changing the World

Another recently published book “The Laser that’s Changing the World” by Todd Neff contains very interesting accounts of the history of many lidar instruments, and anecdotes from the early Pulsed Light Airborne Depth Sounder (PLADS) and Airborne Oceanographic Mapper (AOL) eras at Wallops Island. The PLADS and AOL were the predecessor instruments to the current ATM lidar system.

The Ice at the End of the World

Jon Gertner has just published “The Ice at the End of the World”, a summary of Greenland Ice Cap research, and the possible impact of current ice loss on our future. Over the last 26 years, the NASA ATM at Wallops Island VA has supported NASA’s Arctic Ice Mapping and Operation IceBridge by designing, building, and operating cutting-edge airborne remote sensing instruments in polar regions.  NASA scientists and several past and current ATM team members are prominently featured in the book, including John Sonntag and Dr Robert Thomas, as well as Gertner’s first-hand account of a NASA Operation IceBridge mission. This is an excellent, very readable portrayal of the history of the research of the Greenland Ice Cap.

OIB 2019

ATM is on board the NASA P-3 for Operation IceBridge’s Arctic 2019 surveys.

ATM validates ICESat-2 satellite

The ICESat-2 satellite launched on September 15, 2018.  The OIB Antarctic campaign on the NASA DC-8 included several underflights to directly compare ATM airborne lidar with the IS2 satellite lidar measurements.