MABEL’s First 2011 Flight

March 27th, 2011 by Kelly Brunt

March 25, 2011

This past Tuesday (3/22), MABEL had her first successful flight of 2011!

After just a day of hooking MABEL up to the aircraft and checking out her systems (image below), we flew the instrument on what we consider to be a ‘shakedown’ mission. We flew a route local to the Dryden Flight Research Center that is also used by Operation IceBridge. It allows us to ensure that MABEL, and a secondary instrument onboard the aircraft, are operating smoothly. This flight path also covers a lot of different types of terrain, such as Lake Meade, the Pacific Ocean, mountains, and deserts. These varying terrains allow us to assess MABEL’s performance. Additionally, because we are flying an established route for IceBridge, we have data with which to compare MABEL.

Credit: Eugenia DeMarco, Sigma Space Corp.

Prior to each flight, we have a weather briefing with the pilots. That happens 3 hours before the flight. So at 6:00 AM, two members of our team stumbled into the hanger to assess the weather with the pilots.

Then, around 9:00, the aircraft took off (image below). It turns out, most of the route was pretty nice … except for over the ocean, which is what we really needed, as that was missed during the December mission.

Credit: NASA/Kelly Brunt

We’ll have to get ocean data on the next flight.

Tomorrow, I’ll write a bit about the aircraft associated with MABEL …

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Notes from the Field