March 30, 2009

NASA starts Arctic research mission

The U.S. space agency announced the start Monday of a monthlong Arctic research mission using aircraft to measure the thickness of Greenland's ice sheet.

The mission is the first of two National Aeronautics and Space Administration airborne field campaigns in the Arctic to closely inspect the Greenland and Iceland ice sheets and that region's sea ice and glaciers.

NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite, known as ICESat, is completing a seasonal study of the Earth's ice sheets to gauge how and where they are changing.

Since the ICESat mission has surpassed its expected lifetime, NASA scientists said they are ensuring the continuity of its ice sheet data record by taking airborne measurements nearly simultaneously with measurements from the spacecraft.