Last month, NASA researchers shared the joy of their early return from the recently-launched ice observation satellite, ICESat-2, at the world's largest annual meeting of scientists. This month, many of these researchers are improving as a vital air campaign needed to calibrate satellite delays due to the US government's closure.
Science Magazine announced last week that the spring campaign for NASA's IceBridge air operations over the Arctic and Antarctic, which the space agency has been running since 2009, is likely to be delayed due to President Trump's fictitious crisis on the southern border of United States. Now, several scientists involved with IceBridge and ICESat-2 have told Earther that the campaign, which will initially start on March 4 and will last for eight weeks, faces a delay of up to a month, possibly halving the field season by half  delays would drastically reduce the amount of data that researchers will be able to collect this spring – data needed to continue the continuous recording and verification of the data collected during the $ 1 billion USD mission to the space agency's ICESat-2 mission. The plan for the campaign was to do this [ground-truthing]"said John Sontang, a scientist from Operation IceBridge. (Land Processing is a process of verifying satellite measurements against measurements made on Earth by the same thing.) "Unless we do that, the taxpayer is not getting nearly as much return as his $ 1 billion investment in the spacecraft as it should The IceBridge mission is designed to bridge the data gap between ICESat, a satellite laser altimeter that measures the height of the ice surfaces of the Earth from 2003 to 2009 and ICESat-2, which is currently collecting such data at a higher resolution. These missions provide NASA with important insights into how ice shelves and glaciers melt and move into a warming world, while also helping to accurately identify underwater lakes and other ice characteristics. IceBridge aircraft are equipped with a handful of altimeters for recording ICES records, as well as radar ice-observation tools and other mapping tools.
NASA usually runs a series of spring flights lasting about 2 months. after the Arctic, followed by a one-month fall campaign in Antarctica. With the launch of ICESat-2 in operation this year, IceBridge's spring campaign – the second for the Arctic with a shorter campaign scheduled for summer – plays a key role. The team plans to fly many of the same paths that ICESat-2 does, allowing researchers to check and make sure that the satellite arrives with accurate measurements across different ice fields.
"Through ICESat and IceBridge's measurements of" At the same time, we know exactly how these two datasets relate to each other, "said Ben Smith, a University of Washington vocalist who serves both the IceBridge science teams so and in ICESat-2,
. NASA's Orion aircraft used this campaign in the spring of last fall and requires maintenance before it's ready to fly again. While NASA received an exception last week to start maintenance before the P-3B went bad, Sonntag said the agency had lost "most of the month" and it would take time to catch up. And the integration of the real science tools needed for IceBridge, including those altimeters, has been completely suspended due to exclusion.
How many such delays affect the data that NASA collects this spring is still unclear. Sonntag said that after the Spring Arctic Campaign, the plane is needed for a different mission, so it's unlikely (though not impossible) that IceBridge can make the lost time. Eric Rinyo, a NASA engineer and chief scientist at the IceBridge team, said he expects the campaign to be cut "almost half".  "[I] We hope that the suspension will end soon because it could also jeopardize our preparations for the Great Deployment in Antarctica in the autumn," said Rigoth by email, citing the IceBridge drop-down campaign. "This will be a significant loss of opportunity," said Ron Quoc, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who also serves in the IceBridge science teams and ICESat-2.
Kwok explained that if everything continues to work smoothly with ICESat-2 (and the satellite has been extremely good so far), the availability of a more limited set of IceBridge Calibration data should not be a big deal. "But we are still working on data quality at this stage," he said. "If we did not have a reference database to get back to it, if we needed it, that would be a big problem."
Smith was also not ready to repel him as a minor inconvenience. I want to think we can bypass everything, but it is impossible to say at this point, "he said. "Adding uncertainty when hoping for ICESat-2 will reduce insecurity."