Tech

May 4, 2012

NASA’s ER-2 completes MABEL validation deployment

Dryden-mabel1
The flight, ground and science team that supported the MABEL laser altimeter validation flights over Greenland gathered by NASA's ER-2 for a group photo before pilot Stu Broce (in pressure suit) took the aircraft aloft on its return flight from Keflavik, Iceland to Palmdale, Calif. April 27.

NASA’s high-flying ER-2 Airborne Science aircraft has concluded its four-week deployment to validate data acquired by the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experiment Lidar (MABEL) laser altimeter over the Greenland ice cap and surrounding sea ice fields.

After an almost 10 and one-half hour transit flight from its deployment base in Keflavik, Iceland, NASA ER-2 pilot Stu Broce landed ER-2 806 April 27 at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. The lengthy flight from Iceland included data collection by the MABEL instrument over a portion of broadleaf deciduous forest in Wisconsin. The ground support and science crew that supported the flights returned several days later.

“We completed 100 percent of the science flights,” said Broce, noting that they were able to acquire data on several additional ad hoc targets that were not in the original plan. “The weather cooperated, the plane worked well as did the science instruments.”

The convergence of two glaciers near Thule, Greenland can be seen in this photo from the cockpit of NASA’s ER-2 Earth Resources aircraft during a MABEL laser altimeter validation flight.

The ER-2 flew more than 100 hours on 16 flights in the MABEL validation campaign, including 14 data collection flights over Greenland and surrounding sea ice areas and two transit flights between Keflavik and its home base in Palmdale. Several of the flights were conducted concurrently and on the same flight tracks as flights of other NASA environmental science aircraft involved in the Arctic IceBridge campaign in order to compare data being recorded by the MABEL with instruments on the other aircraft.

Broce had one word to describe the areas of Greenland over which the ER-2 flew: desolate.

A former Air Force pilot, Broce had not flown in this area of the world before the MABEL mission. He noted that one flight took him to 84 degrees north latitude where, he commented, the sun is at a very low angle.

Targets of the flights included wide areas of Greenland’s ice sheets and surrounding sea ice fields, the Jacobshavn, Svalbard and East Glaciers, and a volcano in Iceland.

The partially broken sea ice pack below NASA’s ER-2 can be clearly seen through the pilot’s cockpit viewing sight during one of the MABEL laser altimeter validation flights.

NASA ER-2 research pilot Tim Williams, Dryden’s senior representative on the deployment, noted that more than 5.5 terrabytes of data was collected by the MABEL laser altimeter, the Cloud Physics Lidar and other instruments on board the ER-2 during the mission.

MABEL was developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to simulate a similar instrument planned for NASA’s IceSat-2 environmental satellite that is scheduled for launch in 2016. Scientists consider laser altimetry from satellites or aircraft to be the most accurate method of gauging changing elevations over a period of time, and thus determine the thickening or thinning of Arctic or Antarctic ice fields and sea ice related to climate change.

Flight and science team members participated in a number of public and educational outreach activities during their stay in Iceland, including briefings on MABEL and IceSAT-2 during a speech on climate by Iceland’s president, to the U.S. ambassador and embassy personnel, and to middle- and high-school students, the University of Reykjavik and the Keiler Aviation Academy in Keflavik.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA JPL image

NASA analysis: 11 trillion gallons to replenish California drought losses

NASA JPL image NASA satellite data reveal the severity of California’s drought on water resources across the state. This map shows the trend in water storage between September 2011 and September 2014. It will take about 11 tr...
 
 
NASA photograph by George Hale

NASA’s IceBridge Antarctic campaign wraps up

NASA photograph by George Hale A view from an IceBridge survey flight Nov. 3, 2014, showing a cloud’s shadow on crevassed Antarctic ice. NASA’s Operation IceBridge recently completed its 2014 Antarctic campaign, marking the...
 
 

NASA’s 2014 HS3 hurricane mission investigated four tropical cyclones

NASA photograph NASA’s Global Hawk takes off into the sunset after mission wrap-up at NASA Wallops and heads back to NASA Armstrong. NASA’s Hurricane and Severe Storms Sentinel, or HS3, mission investigated four tropical cyclones in the 2014 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season: Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard and Gonzalo. The storms affected land areas in the Atlantic...
 

 

NASA tests software that may help increase flight efficiency, decrease aircraft noise

NASA researchers Dec. 12 began flight tests of computer software that shows promise in improving flight efficiency and reducing environmental impacts of aircraft, especially on communities around airports. Known as ASTAR, or Airborne Spacing for Terminal Arrival Routes, the software is designed to give pilots specific speed information and guidance so that planes can be...
 
 
nasa-app-challenge

Help U.S. cope with climate change: Enter NASA-USGS data app challenge

NASA in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey is offering more than $35,000 in prizes to citizen scientists for ideas that make use of climate data to address vulnerabilities faced by the United States in coping with clim...
 
 
dryden-social3

Event introduces attendees to NASA’s aviation contributions

  NASA is transforming aviation by reducing aircraft environmental impacts, enhancing safety and leading the way in revolutionary new technologies. Those are some of the key ideas from a two-day NASA Aeronautics Research M...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>