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P-3 Orion 11/25/13 - 11/26/13

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Flight Number: 
Science Flight #4: Siple Coast 03
Payload Configuration: 
Operation IceBridge
Nav Data Collected: 
Total Flight Time: 
8.7 hours
Flight Segments: 
Start:11/25/13 19:52 Z Finish:11/26/13 04:35 Z
Flight Time:8.7 hours
Log Number:14P003PI:Michael Studinger
Funding Source:Bruce Tagg - NASA - SMD - ESD Airborne Science Program
Purpose of Flight:Science
Flight Hour Summary: 
Flight Hours Approved in SOFRS230
Total Used128.2
Total Remaining101.8
14P003 Flight Reports
Date Flt # Purpose of Flight Duration Running Total Hours Remaining Miles Flown
11/06/13OIB ECFCheck1.51.5228.5
11/08/13OIB PCF #1Check3.14.6225.4
11/08/13OIB PCF #2Check3.78.3221.7
11/12/13 - 11/13/131715Transit8.824.5205.5
11/13/13 - 11/14/131716Transit8.132.6197.4
11/14/13 - 11/15/131717Transit6.839.4190.6
11/15/13 - 11/16/131718Transit6.746.1183.9
11/17/13 - 11/18/13McMurdo Check FlightCheck4.350.4179.6
11/18/13 - 11/19/13Science Flight #1: TAM WestScience7.858.2171.8
11/19/13 - 11/20/13Science Flight #2: Victoria 01Science8.366.5163.5
11/20/13 - 11/21/13Science Flight #3: Sea Ice Ross FluxgateScience7.373.8156.2
11/25/13 - 11/26/13Science Flight #4: Siple Coast 03Science8.782.5147.5
11/26/13 - 11/27/13Science Flight #5: Dome C: VostokScience8.290.7139.3
11/27/13 - 11/28/13Transit #1: NZIR-NZCHTransit8.899.5130.5
11/28/13 - 11/29/13Transit #2: NZCH-NSTUTransit6.3105.8124.2
11/29/13 - 11/30/13Transit #3: NSTU-HawaiiTransit7.4113.2116.8
12/01/13Transit #3: Hawaii - Mountain View, CATransit7.1120.3109.7
12/02/13Transit #3: California - WFFTransit6.5126.8103.2
12/11/13ATM Post Mission Cal FlightCheck1.4128.2101.8

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 - P-3 Orion 11/25/13 - 11/26/13 Science Report

Mission Summary: 

F04 Siple Coast 03




  • Low-altitude survey (1,500 ft AGL) over the Ross Sea Ice Shelf and along the Siple Coast.
  • ATM, snow, Ku-band, accumulation, MCoRDS and DMS were operated on the survey lines.
  • Gravimeter and magnetometer data collected over entire flight.
  • Satellite Tracks: ICESat tracks 0230,0379.
  • Repeat Mission: none.


Instrument Operated Data Volume Instrument Issues/Comments
ATM yes 72 GB None. New camera system in use.
DMS yes 108 GB None.
Snow Radar yes 239 GB None.
Ku-band Radar yes 239 GB None.
Accumulation Radar yes 188 GB None.
MCoRDS yes 2.3 TB None.
KT-19 yes 12 MB None.
Gravimeter yes 1.5 GB None.
Magnetometer yes 320 MB HF radio call.


Mission Report (Michael Studinger, Mission Scientist)

After 4 days on the ground we were back in the air today and collecting data. On Friday last week we had to cancel the flight because of high winds and blowing snow on the annual sea ice runway. The conditions exceed the allowed operational limits for the P-3 on an ice runway. The windy weather caused by a low pressure system off the coast of Marie Byrd Land continued all weekend and lasted until Monday. On Saturday the airfield was closed in order to celebrate Thanksgiving with a turkey trot and a dinner. On Sunday the airfield was closed for the regular weekend closure. The weekend was also used for catching up on data processing, e-mail, house mouse duty and doing laundry. Adverse weather on both Saturday and Sunday would have prevented us from flying anyway.

On Sunday afternoon the ice runway had to be closed due to high winds and blowing snow. The road from McMurdo to the ice runway and the runway itself remained closed until Monday evening at 17:30 local time. The runway crew made excellent progress in clearing deep snow drifts yesterday. It takes about 6-8 hours to clear the runway and road after a windstorm and additional work to clear the rac tents and huts from snow that has accumulated over the weekend.

Local conditions for takeoff and landing were suitable for launching a science mission. The weather over the Ross Sea was hopeless preventing any sea ice missions today. A cloud system that already covered Dome C and moving towards Vostok prevented us from flying the Dome C – Vostok mission. Weather over the pole was suitable for a mission, but we decided to go to the Siple Coast today given that the pole area is more likely to have good weather in the future than the Siple Coast. Between the two “baseline” missions along the Siple Coast ice streams we decided to fly Siple Coast 03, whose main goal is to collect data along two ICESat ground tracks, rather than the Kamb Bulge 01 mission which is more targeted to study adjacent thickening and thinning processes on the ice streams. We know from space borne ice surface velocity measurements that the Siple Coast ice streams are undergoing changes but we have no ice surface elevation measurements since 2009, when ICESat stopped collecting data. Today’s data are an important data point in a long time series of elevation change.

After taking off we flew between White and Black Island towards Minna Bluff – a ride with occasional bumps here and there. We went south where Byrd Glacier flows into the Ross Ice Shelf and started our first crossing of the Ross Ice Shelf along data points collected during the RIGGS survey (overflying RIGGS stations N5-N17 and O5-O19). We then collected data along two ICESat ground tracks crossing the MacAyeal, Bindschadler, Kamb and Whillans Ice Streams before flying back across the Ross Ice Shelf towards McMurdo (see map attached). All in all an uneventful and mind numbing flight lacking any interesting scenery. Far away rock outcrops of the Ford Range in Marie Byrd Land and crevasses on the ice streams were the most interesting features to see today (see attached DMS mosaic from Eric Fraime of crevasses on MacAyeal Ice Stream (formerly Ice Stream E).

Data collection started 11/25/2013 20:02 UTC and ended at 11/26/2013 04:28 UTC. In total we collected 8.4 hours of science data.


Today's mission plan and P-3 trajectory.

DMS mosaic of crevasses on MacAyeal Ice Stream (formerly Ice Stream E)