Author Archives: Daniel

Daniel Scuka is Senior Editor for Spacecraft Operations at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.

Meet ESA, the space agency for Europe

You, together with your 500 million fellow citizens from ESA’s 20 European member nations, are the collective owners of one of the world’s leading space agencies. The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation, a cooperative coming together of its Member States in their national interest and common good. This new video offers a quick introduction: Europe, meet ESA.

Welcome to Campaigns at work

The CryoSat ice campaign blog is no longer being updated (the archives are viewable/searchable here) — the campaign itself ended in May 2011 — and instead you’re invited to follow all the fascinating scientific campaigns that support the Agency’s Earth observation missions right here in the new Campaigns at work blog.

The end of a remarkable Arctic campaign

From Malcolm (ESA), NL, 13 May While there are still several teams on the ground finishing off their measurements, the successful ASIRAS flight over T15 on the Greenland ice cap this past Monday following the royal visit on Sunday marks the official end of the ESA CryoVEx campaign for 2011. This has been a remarkable campaign in many ways. One element that comes to my mind is the sheer size of the effort. At times, we have had up to 50 scientists working on land ice or on sea ice across the Arctic, taking dedicated measurements from the air and on the ground – all contributing to CryoSat validation. In addition to...

It’s a wrap – airborne measurements of ice ...

From Henriette (DTU-Space), Denmark, 12 May We ended our DTU-Space part of the CryoVEx campaign on 9 May. The Norlandair Twin Otter has flown about 85 hours, covering about 20 000 km. This is about the same distance as half way around the world at the equator.  The map below shows our flight tracks. We have been able to underfly several CryoSat passes. A few of them were in formation flight with the AWI Polar-5. We have visited five main validation sites, circled in red on the map: Devon ice cap, Austfonna ice cap, the EGIG line Greenland interior, as well as sea ice north of Alert and sea ice around Svalbard...

Icebreaker’s cruise for CryoSat complete

From Angelika (NPI), Arctic Ocean north of Svalbard, 9 May Over the last days we have been continuing with the work on the sea ice north of Svalbard, detailing snow elevation and thickness, taking ice-thickness measurements  and sampling other physical properties of snow and ice. The weather had not been very favourable for long EM-Bird flights, but this changed last Wednesday and we managed to do three flights in one day, covering over 650 km at around at around 81°N 16° E. We had a long 48-hour station on the sea ice where the various groups carried out their work. This included divers sampling flora and fauna the under ice, biologists doing...

NASA performs last joint flight for CryoSat

From Michael (NASA), Greenland, 5 May The storm conditions at Thule Air Base were downgraded from Charlie to Bravo and we were able to take off at 10:52 LT in fairly poor visibility on the runway. Shortly after takeoff, the conditions deteriorated again to Charlie and the airfield was closed for a short time, while we were airborne. Only the targets on the east side of Greenland showed good weather today, but these areas require a 7.5-hour flight to be surveyed efficiently. We had only a 5-hour window to work with and decided to fly the Devon Ice Cap mission despite some clouds in the area. We had to drop the Barnes...

Shape of Greenland’s ice sheet as ‘seenR...

Image from Rob (ESA) NL, 4 May As the team prepares for the Greenland leg of the campaign, this new image, derived from CryoSat data, shows the summit of this vast ice cap. The profile, which runs from south to north over central Greenland, shows the height of the ice cap – peaking at over 3000 m above sea level. Next week will be the last step in the year’s campaign with scientists from various institutes working together to gather airborne and ground measurements of the ice and snow on land. One of the challenges for the CryoSat mission is being able to acquire accurate measurements of two different types of ice....

Polar bears come to check out the action on the sea ice

From Angelika (NPI), Arctic Ocean north of Svalbard, 2 May The Norwegian Polar Institute’s second cruise this spring through the sea ice north of Svalbard is well underway. After a bit of searching to find some decent ice pack to set up camp, we’ve had a successful few days sampling the snow and ice – along with a nightly visit from some polar bears checking out our experiment site. We’ve been aboard the RV Lance with two scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute who joined our NPI sea-ice physics group. Physical oceanographers, marine biologists looking at pelagic, benthic and ice-associated organisms, bio-geochemists, and a dive team are also on the icebreaker, making...

Ice campaign in Svalbard forges ahead

From Tania (ESA) and Henriette (DTU), Svalbard, 1 May With a break in the weather, the weekend has proved very successful for the team in Svalbard. We woke to sunshine on Saturday and heard from the ground teams on the Austfonna ice cap and the RV Lance icebreaker up north in the sea ice that the weather was quite good. So, we grabbed the opportunity fly the Twin Otter equipped with ASIRAS and the laser scanner to take some of the airborne measurements needed for this leg of the campaign. The transit to Austfonna was breathtaking – the views were incredible, so pristine. The only trace of human activity were the occasional...

Monitoring sea-ice conditions around Svalbard

From Mark (ESA), NL, 30 April Over the next several days from 28 April–16 May, Arctic ice-thickness surveys will be taking place north of Svalbard, along CryoSat ground tracks. Airborne measurements of sea-ice thickness are being conducted by the Norsk Polarinstitutt (NPI) in the sea-ice pack north of Svalbard using an EM-Bird from a ship-based helicopter, in combination with field teams taking measurements of ice thickness from the Norwegian vessel RV Lance. This AMSR-E satellite ice-concentration image shows the ice conditions north of Svalbard on 29 April, (Day 119) where this sea-ice component of the validation campaign is taking place. The following ice chart from 28 April shows the corresponding interpretation of the...

Austfonna ground control ready and waiting

From Thomas (UIO), Svalbard, 29 April As various teams gather to kick off the measurement campaign around Svalbard, bad weather has delayed today’s flights. Nevertheless, all the equipment is in place on the Austfonna ice cap and ready for when the weather is clear enough to fly. A team of two from the University of Oslo spent the Easter week on Austfonna setting up the ground control points and preparing the base camp for the main campaign. Five corner reflectors are now in place awaiting the overflight. As usual, conditions were difficult. This time, however, Easter brought surprisingly mild temperatures and rainfall all across the ice cap! The resulting ice layer on...

Back cruising through the sea ice

From Angelika (NPI), Arctic Ocean north of Svalbard, 29 April After a week’s break between cruises, the Norwegian Polar Institute sea ice group is out again for more work on the ice north of Svalbard. Currently, we are waiting to get the helicopter for EM-bird flights onboard – cross your fingers that the clouds lift a bit! A short trip into the pack ice yesterday showed us how different the ice edge is now. Only two weeks after our last station in the same area, there is now lots of broken ice, brash, and only small floes, which are difficult to work on and not really suitable for CryoSat calibration and validation...

Kicking off a new round of measurements in Svalbard

From Tania (ESA), Svalbard, 28 April I’ve arrived in a relatively balmy Svalbard; it’s actually only 0°C, so not that cold. From the plane, I was able to watch the transition from a green snow-free Oslo to the completely white vista of Svalbard. So far, I haven’t seen any polar bears – just this impressive landscape! Lying between 74° and 81°N, the archipelago of Svalbard constitutes the northern most part of Norway – it’s about midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The team from the Technical University of Denmark also arrived this evening and the plan is to start this leg of the measurement campaign tomorrow over the Austfonna Ice...

NASA IceBridge flies Greenland EGIG line for CryoSat

From Michael (NASA), Greenland, 26 April Today was our last opportunity to fly a science mission from Kangerlussuaq and the weather was favourable for Geikie 01, our last remaining high priority mission plan. We expected some clouds over the interior of the ice sheet and down in the fjords and had to abort our flight up Nansen Fjord and Christian Gletscher because of a 3000 ft clouds base and 13 000 ft terrain. Other than that, it was a perfect day. As the photo above shows, the razor sharp flood basalts of the Geikie Plateau are spectacular. After we had finished the glacier runs around the Geikie Plateau, we went up Daugaard...