From Malcolm (ESA), NL on 8 April
Just leaving ESA in the Netherlands for my flight to Alert in northern Canada to start the campaign – which has to be one of the biggest I’ve organised in my 10 years at ESA.

Twin Otter (credits: DTU)

Twin Otter (credits: DTU)

The two planes we have dedicated to the campaign will arrive this weekend along with other team members from Europe and Canada. So, hopefully we’ll be kicking off with the first flights on Monday.

We’ve got a Twin Otter arriving from the Technical University of Denmark that carries the ASIRAS instrument. ASIRAS is an airborne instrument that was developed specifically to mimic the radar altimeter on the CryoSat satellite. In addition, we have a Basler-67 from the Alfred Wegner Institute, which is equipped with an electro-magnetic ice-thickness sensor.

So, while the planes take measurements from the air, team members will be out on the ice taking ground measurements. Apparently it’s about -30°, so it’s going to be a challenge.

I’ll be spending the two weeks out in Alert, based at a military centre. From there I’ll be covering the main activities before nipping back to NL for a week and then heading straight off to Greenland for another leg of the campaign.

NASA are already well into their IceBridge ice survey campaign and things seem to be going well with that. During the campaign, NASA is going to be carrying out several flights for us – underflying CryoSat. This is a great example of cooperation between our two space agencies.

I’m really looking forward to starting the campaign. It’s been a lot of work to organise – we have over 50 people participating from 15 organisations, not counting ESA. So, now actually getting off the ground marks a real milestone!