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Iceman Team hosts NASA research
A NASA C-20A taxis by the Thunderdome April 25, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Members of the Iceman Team supported NASA during its visit to Alaska to assemble topography of glaciers and ice sheets in areas like the Beaufort Sea north of Barrow, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Perras/Released)
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Iceman Team hosts NASA research

Posted 5/2/2013   Updated 5/2/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Zachary Perras
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/2/2013 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- A team of researchers from the NASA Airborne Science Program recently visited Eielson to assemble topography of glaciers and ice sheets in Alaska April 25 to 27, 2013.

Due to some of the research taking place in the Beaufort Sea, Eielson's location provided NASA with necessary personnel and equipment to achieve mission objectives.

"This NASA mission is just another example of how Eielson's unique location, capacity and support infrastructure can be leveraged to support and enable a myriad of [Department of Defense] and federal organization's missions," said Robert Cologie, 354th Operations Support Squadron current operations flight commander. "The NASA support distinctly captures the cornerstone essence of Team Eielson's prepare, enable and deploy skillset."

NASA's team developed a radar system capable of generating wide-swath, precise digital elevation models of glaciers and ice sheets. Aptly named GLISTIN-A, Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer-Airborne, this sensor collects glacier measurements and sea ice observations.

"Specifically, the GLISTIN-A sensor ... contributes high accuracy, high resolution swath measurements in targeted regions that are topographically and dynamically complex," said Delwyn Moller, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The sea ice acquisitions are a test of the sensor's capabilities and potential to measure freeboard and are the first measurements of this kind."

To obtain images from the sensor, GLISTIN-A is attached to a NASA C-20A aircraft. The aircraft, obtained from the Air Force in 2003, has been structurally modified and instrumented by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center to serve as a multirole, cooperative research platform.

The mission to Alaska focused primarily on tidal glaciers, which have a more direct contribution to sea level rise, in order to potentially seed larger-scale observations in other campaigns for climate change science, Moller said.

"Sea ice is just one factor in studying climate change, but it is a major indicator of a warming climate," she explained. "GLISTIN-A has a potential to map and monitor the distribution and mass of the sea ice in a way not currently available through alternate space-borne or airborne sensors."

With the success of the mission to Alaska and the support received from the Iceman Team, members of the C-20A crew are excited to return to the Interior in the future.

"We spend a lot of time at Air Force bases and international airports across the globe, receiving the necessary ground support that is needed to make our missions a success," said John McGrath, C-20A project manager. "The help we have received from everyone here at Eielson is by far the best we have ever experienced and has made our lives very easy and our mission a success, and we are looking forward to coming back up here again."

5/7/2013 4:05:18 PM ET
I have always said there is no better base to keep open strategically than Eielson AFB. Why we don't have two full squadrons of aircraft there is a mystery to me. This community and the good flying weather is the best in the world. Where else can you fly for as long as the eye can see and do it at Mach 2 in the free world. The largest ranges in the free world are here and regardless of the cold no better flying weather in the world. I was stationed here and I should know. Closer to all theaters of interest for US forces. Europe is just over the pole. Japan and Korea are so much closer. New facilities and Cope Thunder Exercises. A Air Refueling with the Alaska National Guard is here. Army just down the road. Arctic Survival Training on base. Great hunting and fishing.
Charles L. Webb, Mammoth Cave KY.
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