In March 2014, a team of scientists returned to the Arctic with NASA’s P-3 aircraft to continue Operation IceBridge, a multi-year aerial survey of polar ice. IceBridge is designed to maintain the continuity of measurements between NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), which stopped functioning in 2009, and its successor, ICESat-2, which is scheduled for launch in 2017.
The first science flight of this year’s campaign occurred on March 12, with the P-3 taking off from Thule Air Base in Greenland to survey sea ice over the Fram Strait. The belly of the plane was packed with radars, altimeters, gravimeters, and an array of sensors designed to yield a three-dimensional view of the ice. Scientists on the plane also had less exotic sensors with them: cameras. Michael Studinger, the IceBridge project scientist, captured this photograph of the Moon and the glow of morning sunlight on snow-covered peaks in northeastern Greenland.