Transcripts of Operation IceBridge Antarctica 2011 Mission Preview

Cutler:The DC-8 we're preparing for Operation IceBridge this year. It's our third year in supporting this campaign. These are ice studies down in the Antarctic. We fly regularly about 11-hour missions and for the last three weeks we've been preparing the aircraft for this effort. So we're excited to get it going and we'll be leaving this Sunday on this trip.

Studinger: Typically a few weeks before the deployment, we start installing all the science instruments onto the aircraft here at Dryden, and then we need to test fly the aircraft before we deploy. And we have done this this week so we fly typically over known targets in the Mojave desert here and over the Pacific Ocean and when we are comfortable that everything works as we expect, we are ready for deployment and then we will leave on Sunday for Punta Arenas in Chile.

Cutler: And of course there aren't any airfields down on the Antarctic continent that we could easily operate out of so we're operating out of southern Chile -- we're about as far south in South America as you can get and that gets us as close as you possibly can to the Antarctic. The DC-8 is well-suited for this kind of work because of the long legs it can fly.

Studinger: Operation IceBridge is the largest airborne campaign that has ever been flown of the polar ice sheets so far, and I'm really excited to be part of it because we fly six different airplanes this year -- three of them over the Arctic and three planes on the Antarctic and the DC-8 is the main workhorse for us to cover a lot of ground over the Antarctic Peninsula and the many glaciers that flow into the southern ocean. We are going back every year over the same glacier in Antarctica and measure with extreme precision how the surface elevation has changed from year to year, and that tells us how much ice Antarctica is losing.