Shakedown Flight

Surveying at last! Well, sort of: Before flying over ‘uncharted’ shelf, we cover ground where there is already QC’ed and processed data (collected previously from NASA Operation IceBridge in 2013, and by ROSETTA in 2015 and 2016) we can compare to, so that we are absolutely sure that instruments are operating properly.

While racing out of the galley this morning to catch the 6am shuttle, Dave Porter (associate research scientist from Columbia University) casually informs us of recent and somewhat alarming news: The UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply), which feeds power to the meters during transit to the plane, cannot last more than ten minutes; we shall use a small generator – but start it inside, he tells us, as it’s too cold to turn it on outside. With only one cup of coffee this morning at breakfast, I was too decaffeinated to feel nervous as we were loading the gravimeters. Total lie: I was so nervous that one cup was all I needed.

Grant O’Brien moving the gravity meters outside to the forklift. Notice the generator.


The meters get transported to the plane. This is when we are all holding our breath.
Loading the meters through the back door of the LC-130 aircraft.

The loading process went well, but take-off was delayed a few hours due to problems with the second engine. (The details of which I probably could not understand and were not given to us, but, perhaps ambiguity with regards to mechanical issues is best for the psyche). Everyone was giddy when the skis left the runway – we were finally airborne!


Author: Alec Lockett

Alec grew up in Belmont, MA and graduated with a degree in Geology in May 2017 from Colorado College. His senior thesis used gravity and magnetic data from the ROSETTA-Ice 2015-2016 field season to interpret and characterize the bedrock beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, West Antarctica. The project is an interdisciplinary effort with the aim of understanding the systems interaction between the Ross Ice Shelf, underlying water and bedrock through an airborne geophysical survey. Geophysics, along with remote sensing (of the cryosphere) and structural geology, are some of Alec’s overarching interests, which grew while working in Antarctica with members of the ROSETTA-Ice group during the 2016-2017 season. Alec is participating in field data collection once more this fall/winter (Antarctic summer). Interests outside of geology include reading, hiking, skiing and biking.

2 thoughts on “Shakedown Flight”

  1. Hi Alec!! Mom here with Mary, my good friend who is in 4th grade, who studied Antarctica last year!! She and all of us (with the Honey’s this weekend in Hanover NH) and she’d like to know if you get a chance to see any penguines?? Let us know, and also how you’re doing! We’re all sending good wishes!!xo


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