NASA researchers in Antarctica completed their first mission Monday of the Operation IceBridge project, whose goal is to analyze the health of glaciers and sea ice from above the Earth's poles.
Aboard a modified P-3B plane, the researchers took photos of the Transantarctic Mountains prior to landing at McMurdo Station. Their next flight will cross Victoria Land. They have a schedule of daily missions through Nov. 26 to explore several scientifically important areas, including the ice streams of the Siple Coast, according to a LiveScience report.
It's important to study ice streams because they are a type of glacier that flows at speeds of 3,300 feet each year. The P-3B will be able to track changes in the ice streams, including their elevation, thickness and shape, and evaluating the data will help them determine the depth of the water cavities underneath the glaciers, NASA officials said.
During the previous IceBridge mission, the team was stationed in southern Chile and took off from Punta Arenas. Being stationed on the continent they are exploring will enable them to conduct longer flights and cover more ground.
"Flying from Antarctica will allow us to survey areas that had been unreachable from Chile," said Michael Studinger, project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "There are many scientifically important areas we can now reach from McMurdo."
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