OIB traveled a long way at high altitude today, traveling over the South Pole Station, and then descending to 1500′ above the Antarctic Plateau to fly the eastern side of a circuit around the Pole along the 88 degree latitude line. This latitude coincides with the southern-most orbits of several satellites that study polar ice (CryoSat2 currently and IceSat2 after a future launch). By transversing the 88 degree circle, the OIB remote sensing instruments on NASA 817 gathered data over every orbit of these satellites, which can be compared to the satellite instruments. This “88 degree South Pole Hole” flight line is an extremely valuable for validation and calibration of the satellites. The west portion of the 88 degree South circle was flown on an earlier mission during this deployment, so today completed this 88 degree south circle.
All OIB remote sensing instruments on the NASA DC8 performed well today and successfully collected data during this mission which is now designated the “Hamilton Line East” in memory of Dr Gordon Hamilton, who died doing research in Antarctica this Fall. Gordon was a fore-runner of the new generation of glaciologists, and we all appreciate his work with OIB (and earlier) remote sensing data. He will be missed!
Today’s 11+ hour mission consisting of 9.5 hours of high altitude transit, and 90 minutes of low altitude data collection.
The 90 minutes of low altitude data collection covered the eastern tracks shown in this detailed view.
The low altitude portion of this mission was flown at 1500′ above the Antarctic Plateau, a mostly featureless expanse of ice and snow.
The NASA DC8 contrail from our high altitude pass over the South Pole is dissipating as we passed underneath at low altitude 90 minutes later.
The Antarctic Peninsula mountains sideline by the sun on our return
The Antarctic Peninsula mountains
The photo image above is the DMS camera image of South Pole Station from high altitude. The color insert image is from the ATM FLIR infrared camera that captures heat data. Lines connect several buildings on the photos which show as white or red on the FLIR image because the buildings are emitting heat. There are several apparent heat plumes dissipating downwind as red “clouds” on the FLIR image, which are invisible on the photo image. The gradient from green to red across the image is caused by the sun angle.
An ATM T6 wide scan lidar elevation map. The elevation scale is 0 to 3 meters, and one can see the fine structure (<1 meter) of the snow drifts (called sastrugi) on the ice surface.