An international group of scientists has swapped their comfortable offices for one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet to carry out a challenging field campaign that is seen as the key to ensuring the data delivered by ESA's ice mission CryoSat will be as accurate as possible.
The scientists, mainly from Denmark, UK, Germany and Canada, are currently in the middle of CryoSat Validation Experiment (CryoVEx) 2008, an extensive three-week experiment programme in the far north of Greenland and Canada. CryoVEx 2008 is a continuation of a number of earlier campaigns that focus on collecting data on the properties snow and ice over land and sea.
The data collected during the campaigns will later enable scientists to accurately interpret the variations in ice thickness with time, which will be measured by the Earth Explorer CryoSat mission.
Although CryoVEx 2008 builds on previous exercises and the scientists are fairly seasoned when it comes to enduring the harsh Arctic environment, this year's campaign is a huge logistical undertaking as airborne, helicopter and ground measurements are being taken simultaneously in three different locations - out on the floating sea-ice north of the Canadian Forces Station Alert, on the Devon ice cap in Canada and on the vast Greenland ice cap.
The campaign includes a unique experiment in northern Greenland where the 'cold' ice is assumed to be similar to large parts of Antarctica. Accessing the planned northern areas has been particularly complicated due to limited infrastructure, military permits, unforgiving weather, large distances and a host of other constraints.
Despite these constraints, the range of equipment put to the service of the campaign is impressive. They include a Twin Otter carrying on-board the two key instruments for the investigations: ASIRAS, a radar altimeter that mimics the radar altimeter on-board CryoSat-2 and a laser scanner which maps the surface
|Contact: Malcolm Davidson|
European Space Agency