NASA’s Operation IceBridge Science Team Plans For The Future
George Hale – NASA
Twice a year, members of NASA’s Operation IceBridge science team meet to discuss the mission’s goals and progress, to define plans for upcoming field campaigns and get feedback from the scientific community. The science team met from January 28 through 30, 2014, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
This was the first meeting for IceBridge’s new science team, which will serve from 2014 until 2017.
IceBridge’s previous science team was selected in 2010 when the mission was in its early stages. To create these teams, NASA sends out a request for proposals to the research community. Interested researchers submit proposals which are then reviewed by a peer committee that selects members for a term of three years. Many of the current 10-member team served in the previous term, with three new members joining their ranks.
As in previous years the two-day-long meeting was held at the same time and place as the annual Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment or PARCA meeting. PARCA is a meeting for Arctic researchers to present their work and plan for upcoming field campaigns.
Presentations given at the PARCA conference and during the IceBridge meeting allow for the science team to see what researchers are doing with IceBridge data, such as mapping internal layers of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and hear more about what scientists want from the missions, such as increased coverage of the newly discovered layer of water within Greenland’s ice and over the rapidly changing sea ice cover in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
These talks tie into the IceBridge science team’s advisory role to act as a conduit between the mission and other researchers. “We want to make sure what we’re doing benefits the broader science community,” said Jackie Richter-Menge, sea ice researcher and IceBridge science team co-lead at the US Army Corp of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H.
Richter-Menge oversees the mission’s activity over sea ice and joins University of California Irvine scientist Eric Rignot from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who oversees IceBridge’s land ice work.
The science team meeting also gives researchers opportunities to discuss possible collaborations. One example of collaboration between IceBridge and other groups is the mission’s work with the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite mission verification campaign known as CryoVEx.
Another main feature of the meeting is planning of future IceBridge campaigns. In the weeks before the meeting, members of the science team and IceBridge mission planners go over possible flight plans through phone and e-mail discussion. After hearing feedback from the scientific community and meeting with potential research partners the science team then goes through the flight plans again to rank their priority.
IceBridge mission planners will now take what was discussed during the meeting and use it to further solidify plans for the mission’s upcoming 11-week-long Arctic campaign, which runs from early March through late May.