KU News Release

Aug. 31, 2009
Contact: Ian Cahir, School of Engineering, (785) 864-2936

Researchers at KU receive almost $2 million for missions with NASA

LAWRENCE — Researchers from the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, headquartered at the University of Kansas, received almost $2 million in funding to take part in NASA’s Operation ICE Bridge program.

Earlier this year, attention focused on the coming end of NASA’s ICESat satellite, which will cease observations sometime this year. Operation ICE Bridge is intended to continue research until a new satellite can be launched. CReSIS and KU have been chosen to be a major part of that effort.

As part of Operation ICE Bridge, three CReSIS radar systems will fly along with sensors from other institutions aboard a NASA DC-8 aircraft this fall to characterize Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves, outlet glaciers and regional sea ice.

“NASA’s decision to fund KU and CReSIS to provide these sensors and to collect, process and deliver these data confirms that the research and systems developed here are cutting edge and among the best in the world,” said Christopher Allen, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and associate director of technology at CReSIS.

“It is also a testament to the quality of work pioneered by CReSIS Director Prasad Gogineni for more than 15 years in the field of radar echo sounding of the polar ice sheets. Our capability to meet NASA’s requirements is possible, in part, thanks to prior funding from NASA and the National Science Foundation.”

Between Oct. 15 and Nov. 21, approximately 18 science missions of about 11 hours each will be flown from a combination of high and low altitudes. The missions will be based out of Punta Arenas, Chile, and will fly over the Antarctic peninsula, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and other regions in that area. This will be the first of several Antarctic campaigns planned for the next few years.

The radar data collected during the CReSIS missions, together with data collected by laser altimeters and other onboard sensors, are intended to provide critical ice thickness data on the properties of the rapidly changing ice streams and for the sea ice.

Along with the benefits from an environmental and scientific point of view, Allen points out that grants such as this lead to better research and results in the future.

“Work of this kind benefits KU and CReSIS as it allows us to advance the state-of-the-art while training the next generation of scientists and engineers,” he said. “Also, because of this work we will be well positioned for future opportunities requiring these technologies and capabilities.”

CReSIS is a Science and Technology Center established by the NSF in 2005 with the mission of developing new technologies and computer models to measure and predict the response of sea level change to the mass balance of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. CReSIS provides students and faculty with opportunities to pursue research in a variety of disciplines; to collaborate with world-class scientists and engineers in the United States and abroad; and to make meaningful contributions to the ongoing, urgent work of addressing the impact of climate change.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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