IceBridge At McMurdo After 18 Months Of Planning
[ Watch The Video: First Landing: IceBridge P-3 on the Sea Ice Runway ]
Making the current NASA Operation IceBridge campaign – the first to ever operate directly from Antarctica – a reality took a year and a half of planning and coordination, finishing with weeks of intense work both at home and in Antarctica.
Before anything at all could happen, the mission’s science team had to come up with science flight plans. And mission planners worked closely with the National Science Foundation to work out how to operate NASA’s P-3 aircraft in such a remote locale as McMurdo Station by making upgrades to the aircraft and training its crew.
IceBridge instrument teams quickly installed the mission’s scientific gear and then packed up and flew off to Christchurch, New Zealand, for training and special cold weather gear, before boarding a U.S. Air Force transport plane for the last hop to the ice.
Once at McMurdo, the teams went into high gear, setting up ground-based equipment used to calibrate the aircraft’s instruments and preparing for the arrival of NASA’s P-3, which was making the five-day-long transit from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, across the Pacific to New Zealand and finally to McMurdo Station.
When the NASA research aircraft touched down on McMurdo’s eight-foot-thick sea ice runway on Nov. 16, the team was there to meet the plane, eager to begin a new chapter for IceBridge.
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