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
"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
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