DC-8 10/16/12 - 10/17/12

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Flight Number: 
Payload Configuration: 
OIB Antarctic 2012
Nav Data Collected: 
Total Flight Time: 
11.8 hours
Flight Segments: 
Start:10/16/12 13:34 Z Finish:10/17/12 01:21 Z
Flight Time:11.8 hours
Log Number:138003PI:Michael Studinger
Funding Source:Bruce Tagg - NASA - SMD - ESD Airborne Science Program
Purpose of Flight:Science
Comments:Depart SCCI at 1334Z. Perform calibration ramp pass to the SE and overfly targets at 1342Z at 1000 ft AGL. Climb to cruise altitudes of between FL310 & FL350. Descend to 1500 ft AGL to cross first science waypoint at 1757Z. Perform eight passes over glacier and overfly final waypoint at 2156Z. Perform 15 deg. bank to bank maneuvers for radar instruments calibration during return transit. 0.75 hours high altitude ATM data collected during initial part of transit. Xchat with school children in class rooms across USA during mission. Climb to FL400 for transit to Punta Arenas. Land SCCI at 0121Z.Gravimeter control computer faulted on takeoff rendering the instrument unusable; all other instruments airworthy
Flight Hour Summary: 
Flight Hours Approved in SOFRS200
Total Used215.7
Total Remaining-15.7
138003 Flight Reports
Date Flt # Purpose of Flight Duration Running Total Hours Remaining Miles Flown
10/08/12 - 10/09/12130103Transit10.718.9181.1
10/13/12 - 10/14/12130106Science10.944.2155.8
10/16/12 - 10/17/12130108Science11.867.6132.4
10/19/12 - 10/20/12130110Science10.289.4110.6
10/23/12 - 10/24/12130112Science11.3111.988.1
10/28/12 - 10/29/12130115Science11.314654
11/01/12 - 11/02/12130116Science1215842
11/02/12 - 11/03/12130117Science10.6168.631.4
11/06/12 - 11/07/12130119Science9.418911
11/07/12 - 11/08/12130120Science11.5200.5-0.5
11/10/12 - 11/11/12130122Transit11.6215.4-15.4

Flight Reports began being entered into this system as of 2012 flights. If there were flights flown under an earlier log number the flight reports are not available online.

Related Science Report: 

OIB - DC-8 10/16/12 Science Report

Mission Summary: 

F04 Thwaites Upstream #3


  • Low-altitude survey (1,500 ft AGL) over Thwaites Glacier grounding line area. Completed all planned survey lines.
  • Collected additional high altitude data.
  • ATM, MCoRDS, snow and Ku-band radars, gravimeter, and DMS were operated on the survey lines.
  • Collected additional ATM and DMS high-altitude data over sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea on transit home.
  • Conducted pitch maneuvers for time stamp verification of snow and Ku-band radars.
  • Conducted roll maneuvers for MCoRDS over sea ice from high altitude for instrument calibration.
  • Conducted one ramp pass (1,000 ft AGL) at Punta Arenas airport after takeoff for DMS, ATM, snow and Ku-band radar instrument calibration.
  • Hosted several question and answer sessions on x-chat during the flight with students teachers from
    across the United States.
  • Satellite Tracks: none
  • Repeat Mission: none

Science Data Report Summary

Instrument Operated Data Volume Instrument Issues/Comments
ATM yes 46 GB None
DMS yes 107 GB None
Snow Radar yes 441 GB None
Ku-band Radar yes 441 GB None
MCoRDS yes 700 GB None
KT-19 yes 20 MB None
Gravimeter yes 0.0 GB Computer failure. All data lost.
DC-8 On-board Data yes 40 MB None

Mission Report (Michael Studinger, Mission Scientist)

Our primary candidate mission for today was the high-altitude Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, Kohler Glacier mission based on the weather forecast we received last night on the transit flight back to Punta Arenas from the Foundation Ice Stream. We typically download small forecast maps generated by the AMPS model during the flight to get an indication for potential missions on the next day. The AMPS model indicated very good conditions with the entire Pine Island and Thwaites Glacier area cloud free and a healthy offshore flow for today. The new run of the AMPS model indicated the same conditions this morning before the weather brief at the met office. Just like yesterday the forecast from the airport was very different predicting a layer of clouds around 12,000 ft, potentially obscuring the ice surface for a high-altitude survey from 40,000 ft. The somewhat outdated satellite imagery showed clouds in the area, supporting the model forecast from the met office. We decided to cancel the Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, Kohler mission at high altitude and instead go for the low-altitude mission next to it called Thwaites Upstream 03. We were fairly confident to be able to survey below the cloud deck. During descent into the survey area the view into the Pine Island Glacier area confirmed our decision. The area was below a patchy and fairly dense layer of clouds that would have caused significant data loss for a high-altitude survey. The weather over the Thwaites Glacier upstream area was perfect with some patchy and dense cloud layers above us that didn't impact our data collection.

Today’s mission and previous missions are aligned with the UTIG AGASEA grid. Together, the missions result in a 2.5 km grid over the grounding area and 5 km upstream. The data is intended as input for ice sheet models.

We also completed a ramp pass at Punta Arenas airport at 1,000 ft AGL after takeoff to ensure good data for DMS and ATM instrument calibration and also for snow and Ku-band radar calibration.

With the exception of the gravimeter all instruments worked well. The control computer for the gravimeter failed shortly after takeoff and a repair during flight is not possible. All gravity data from today's flight have been lost.

Time (UTC) Hours
Begin high altitude data collection
Begin low altitude data collection 17:48
End low altitude data collection 22:00 4.2
End high altitude data collection 22:45 0.8
Total 5.0

Trajectory of today’s science mission over Thwaites Glacier

View of the Thwaites Glacier survey area