National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Wallops Flight Facility


Reports from ATM field campaigns

Test Test Test

OIB Final

Due to the NASA Gulfstream engine issue and the scheduled deployment end date, OIB will fly no more science missions for the 2019 OIB Antarctic deployment. OIB personnel will return home via commercial flights, and the Gulfstream aircraft will return to Houston following engine repair, and OIB instrument download will happen after their return.

Despite the unexpected end, this campaign was extremely successful in conducting 20 missions covering a new region of Antarctic for OIB. The OIB instruments performed very well during the Hobart missions, and we look forward to processing the data and sharing with scientists worldwide.

And for the first time in the last 26 years (15 years of Arctic Ice Mapping and 11 years of Operation IceBridge) , the ATM instrument package is not on an upcoming aircraft schedule. ICESat-2 is doing well in orbit, NASA Operation IceBridge is over, and we are still determining how the ATM might serve future research projects. I hope I can report that the ATM team will be resuming ATM sitreps for some program in the near future.

It has been a privilege, honor and pleasure being able to share ATM sitreps with you all, and hope you enjoyed reading about our research and adventures.

A “Thank You” to:
-the aircrews who flew us over all the years for keeping us safe, and completing so many science missions in hostile polar regions.
-our OIB science teammates on all the instruments that have flown with us, and all the guests who’ve flown and traveled with us for being like family.
-our friends in many countries who made us feel welcome,
-the NASA administration folks who supported ATM over the decades,
-and all of the scientists who used our data in amazing ways.

Working for NASA airborne remote sensing programs over the last 38 years, I believe I’ve had the best job in the world.

SPRI Adelie Coast – ABORT

OIB had decided to attempt the “SPRI Adelie Coast”, however a minor engine issue developed enroute and the NASA Gulfstream turned back north, orbited near Tasmania to burn fuel and safely landed. The engine situation is being assessed.

Today’s “return to base” flight track

Cook-Ninnis 01

OIB completed the “Cook-Ninnis 01” land ice mission today with the NASA flight report stating “completely clear skies and occasional light turbulence. All instruments performed well, 100% successful data collection minus the bad MCoRDS channel. Due to fuel concerns, we began climb-out 60 km prior to the final waypoint (on the easternmost leg of the Cook fluxgate), but continued collecting data on all instruments until past the final waypoint. We performed a ramp pass at 1500 ft AGL on arrival at Hobart.”

The OIB team will check the weather tomorrow and launch a mission if possible.

The NASA OIB team and NASA 5 in Hobart

Wide view of today’s mission

Detail of the flight track over the science site

Left winglet of N95NA during a turn, over a background of strikingly large sastrugi on slow-moving ice between Cook and Ninnis Glaciers (John Sonntag / NASA)

Snow-covered crevasses on upper Ninnis Glacier, with the vast interior of East Antarctica stretching to the horizon (Caitlin Locke / LDEO)

Victoria Flowlines

OIB completed the “Victoria Flowlines” land ice mission today in good weather, and added a line to the Rennick grid when departing the science site. All OIB GV remote sensing instruments reported good data collection.

OIB will check weather and decide if a mission is possible tomorrow.

Today’s flight track

Detail of flight track over science targets

Time lapse video taken by a NASA Gulfstream V aircrewman

A small mountain on the south side of Canham Glacier, with our left wing in the foreground (John Sonntag / NASA)

An icefall in the Lanterman Mountains (John Sonntag / NASA)

Images and plots below by Matthew Linkswiler/NASA

Moscow-Holmes Mop-Up

OIB completed the “Moscow-Holmes Mop-Up” mission today, combining portions of two previous missions where fuel limitations caused an early returns to Hobart and certain flight-lines were not flown. OIB completed this mission in good weather and all remote sensing instruments operating well.

OIB will attempt another mission tomorrow, weather permitting.

Today’s flight track

Detail of today’s mission

All photos below by NASA/Alexey Chibisov

Adelie-Clarie Gap 01

OIB completed the land ice “Adelie-Clarie Gap 01”, designed to fill gaps in bedrock topography along the Adelie and Clarie Coasts, on a 10 km grid. The gaps are between previous ICECAP surveys in the region.

According to the NASA mission report; “A calm wind today in Hobart and a promising forecast for the Adelie and Clarie coasts let to this mission selection, our first low-priority mission of this campaign. An impressive headwind (at one point exceeding 80 kt) slowed our arrival slightly. The flight proceeded uneventfully under broken skies with occasional moderate turbulence. We completed the whole mission with 100% data collection and no issues reported. A ramp pass at 1,500 ft AGL was performed upon return to Hobart.

OIB hopes to attempt another mission tomorrow, weather permitting.

Wide view of today’s flight plan

Detail view of today’s flight plan

Semi-capsized iceberg along Adelie Coast (Joe MacGregor / NASA)

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot of the flat ice surface with some small crevasses

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot of today’s science targets showing the general elevation trends in this region.

Denman 02

OIB completed the Denman Glacier flowline portion of the “Denman 02” land ice mission today under a high (10,000’ overcast) with some upstream turbulence. Due to the distant science target location and fuel concerns the Scott Glacier centerline was not flown. All OIB remote sensing instruments reported good data collection.

Tomorrow is a hard down day (based on weather forecasts and predicted future crew rest requirements)

Wide view of today’s flight

Detail of the science target line

All photos below of the Denman Glacier by NASA/Alexey Chibisov

Denman 01 Mop-up

OIB successfully completed the “Denman 01 Mop-up” mission, to survey the Denman and Scott Glaciers upstream of their grounding lines. The weather was clear with light turbulence, and all OIB remote sensing instruments on the GV reported good data collection, with the MCoRDS antenna showing a possible loose connection at the end of the survey lines (but still acquiring good data).

Weather will be assessed tomorrow and a mission flown if possible.

Wide view of today’s missioon

Detail of the glacier track lines today.

All glacier photos below by NASA/Alexey Chibisov

Weather Scrub

Due to unfavorable weather over the science sites in Antarctica, OIB has scrubbed today.

Racetrack Central

OIB completed the sea ice mission “Racetrack Central” today in sunny calm conditions.

This mission is designed to fly three circuits of a “racetrack” pattern along a low-latency ICESat-2 ground track. The two legs of the racetrack are the “D” and “F” (strong TEP beams) of the selected RGT. The three circuits are designed to widen the composite swath of each leg, to improve the changes of coincident OIB and ICESat-2 measurements in the presence of ice drift.

The low wind conditions minimized any aircraft track corrections, ideal conditions for this ICESat2 comparison mission. All OIB instruments reported good data collection again today.

Tomorrow is a “hard down” day for crew rest.

Detail of the race-track flight track- 3 overlapping ATM swaths (flown at 3000’ above the ice) al;ong two of the ICESat2 strong beam ground tracks

Below photos and plots by Matt Linkswiler (NASA)

An attempt at including a animation of a series of sea ice photos as the GV overflew the science lines.

An iceberg floating in the sea ice

A variety of sea ice

An open lead in the sea ice

Another open lead

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot of sea ice 4 meter full scale

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot of sea ice 4 meter full scale

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot of sea ice showing a composite of three ATM swaths.