NASA scientists sent to spend Xmas in Antarctica verifying new satellite

The Pisten Bully at work in Antarctica.

A NASA team is heading on a trip arcing around the South Pole to check that their new satellite’s measurements from space are just as good as their own back on terra firma.

The ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2) will launch next year, tasked with measuring elevation around the world to investigate the changes to the planet’s cryosphere (the icy bits of Earth) due to climate change.

As its ATLAS laser altimeter system will examine areas in the Antarctic previously unmeasured, the four-person NASA team – made of two scientists, a mechanic and a mountaineer – is traveling ahead to provide a second set of data.

The quartet arrived at McMurdo Station earlier this week and will fly to the South Pole shortly.

After acclimatizing to the low temperatures and high altitude, they will begin the 470-mile journey using PistenBully snow transports.

The intrepid band will travel to the 88th meridian, a line which the satellite will cross multiple times during its orbit, follow the meridian for 186 miles, then return to the South Pole, a route which will take around two weeks minimum.

To assess ICESat-2’s accuracy, the team will examine snow density by digging and using ground penetrating radar to take measurements.

These numbers, when taken with ICESat-2’s total elevation data, will reveal how the ice sheet below changes over time.

They will also place grids of reflective cubes at sites they have measured along the 88th meridian. These will reflect the light back at the satellite at a greater intensity which will be recorded.

The team can then compare their data with the satellite’s when the expedition concludes and they return to the US with the information.

Kelly Brunt, ICESat-2’s calibration and validation lead at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said: “This traverse provides an extremely challenging and extremely cold way to assess the accuracy of the data.

“ICESat-2’s datasets are going to tell us incredible things about how Earth’s ice is changing, and what that means for things like sea level rise.”

Read more at The Register

Comments (5)

  • Avatar



    You should be happy as a hog in mud !
    Now you have technology that will prove that ICE in Antarctica is growing in square mileage and in depth.
    Of course if it doesn’t, you will simply ridicule those “adjusting” the data….like you have in the past !

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      This is new technology. We will watch . However, continental ice grows only when snowfall exceeds snow melt. Temperature is just one part of the equation. Snowfall depends on several things.

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      Are you talking about antarctic ice, or antarctic sea ice growing drewski? Or the antarctic ice that is melting from below due to volcanic activity?

      Some areas grow while others shrink, what remains to be seen is how alarmists “adjust” the data. As always.

      A nice Melty summer day… HMMmmm… Melty…
      December 22, 2017 3:17 PM UTC
      Temperature -8° C 18° F
      Wind Chill -14° C 7° F
      Wind Speed 7 knots
      Air Pressure 29.25 inches

      Or super Melty…

      South Pole Station Weather
      December 22, 2017 4:55 PM UTC
      Temperature -24° C -11° F
      Wind Chill -32° C -26° F
      Wind Speed 6 knots
      Air Pressure 692 millibars

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    Of course some idiots are trying to prove that the snow on the mountian in Alaska is becuase of Global Warming Yeah Sure Woo Hoo tell me about it the same idiots(Like Rakooi)who like to hear Al Bores idiotic poem

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      That’s exactly right, both more snow and less snow proves Mann Made cLIEmate change. Useless Idiotski agrees.

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