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Airborne Survey of Polar Ice 2013

NASA IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever conducted and on 13 August 2013, you can learn more about this amazing research!

Join Mark and the team for a LIVE PolarConnect event. To learn more and register, go here.

You can also read all of Mark's journals as well as revisit Tim Spuck's work from 2012.

Meet the Team

Teacher - Mark Buesing

Mark Buesing's picture
Libertyville High School
Libertyville , Illinois
United States

Mark Buesing confesses that he is not a teacher. At least that's not what he started out as. Mr. Buesing graduated with honors in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois - Urbana. He worked at both Hughes Aircraft in the Missile Development Division and Motorola in the Cellular Subscriber Division.

In college Mr. Buesing started bicycle racing. As he began receiving wider recognition as a bicycle racer, he accepted an offer to race full time and left Motorola on good terms. While racing, he was selected to train at the Olympic Training Center, was twice the Illinois Rider of the Year, and rode in the 1992 Olympic Trials.

During an off-season from cycling, a physics teacher at a local high school quit. A friend called and asked Mr. Buesing if he could fill in until the school could find a "real" teacher. Mr. Buesing loved engineering, but after a few days in the classroom, felt a calling to be a teacher; he had accidentally discovered what he was meant to do. After retiring from cycling Mr. Buesing completed a Master's in Education and embarked on a teaching career.

"Mr. Mark," as his students call him, teaches Physics and AP Physics at Libertyville High School. He is the head cross country coach and coaches the school's academic decathlon team. He lives in Bristol, WI with his wife, two children, and a dog.

Researcher - Michael Studinger

Michael Studinger's picture
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt , Maryland
United States

Michael Studinger is the Project Scientist for NASA's Operation IceBridge. He received a PhD in Geophysics from the University of Bremen and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany, in 1998. He has been a research scientist for over a decade at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. In 2010, he joined the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Michael's research interests include physical processes in polar regions linking subglacial environments, ice sheet dynamics, and life in extreme environments, such as subglacial lakes. He is using integrated sets of aerogeophysical data, including gravity, magnetics, ice-penetrating radar, and laser altimeter measurements, to answer key questions in glaciology. His main research projects focus on the role of subglacial environments in a global framework.

Science Outreach Coordinator - George Hale

George Hale's picture
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt , Maryland
United States

George Hale is Operation IceBridge's education and public outreach coordinator and has interests in communicating science to the public and student involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Project Manager - Christy Hansen

Christy Hansen's picture
Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt , Maryland
United States

Christy Hansen is Operation IceBridge's Project Manager, and handles all phases of IceBridge from planning and mission operations, to managing data product delivery and meeting all of the project's requirements. She works with all branches of IceBridge, including the aircraft offices, instrument teams, logistics teams, science teams, data center and education/outreach teams. Christy's experience comes from more than 10 years of training astronauts as an instructor in the extra-vehicular activity group and as a flight controller in the Mission Operations Directorate at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In her career with NASA, Christy has worked with the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, and Hubble Space Telescope programs.


May 22, 2013 You Could Be the Next ...

The folks at NASA's Operation IceBridge were nice enough to help put together a little public service announcement to help motivate and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

April 21, 2013 PolarTREC and NASA’s Operation IceBridge By The Numbers

Don’t forget to ‘like’ Operation IceBridge's Facebook page or bookmark the official NASA OIB website. If you're on Facebook, I highly recommend the Facebook page. From March 23 – April 19, 2013: Miles flown commercially: 16,000 Miles flown with OIB: 12,000 Total combined miles: 28,000 Number...

April 20, 2013 Home Sweet Home

Operation IceBridge had packed up their gear and it was time for me to do the same. As well as doing science and educational outreach, I managed to make a few friends along the way.

April 19, 2013 Project Scientist Michael Studinger

Michael and Mark
Did I tell you I share a college-sized dorm room with Michael Studinger? He’s the project scientist for Operation IceBridge. He is responsible for ALL the science and scientific data collected. If the project has a central nervous system, Michael is the brain in that model. He has a Ph.D. in...

April 18, 2013 The Choreographer

John Sonntag
John Sonntag is the choreographer of NASA’s Operation IceBridge. As a high schooler in Texas he saw the Omnimax movie The Dream is Alive about NASA’s space program, and he knew then that he wanted to be a part of it.

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Project Information

Operation IceBridge
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
1 April 2013
18 April 2013

Where are They?

View from flight over Greenland
View from flight over Greenland
The field campaign for Operation IceBridge will be based out of Kangerlussuaq in western Greenland. Once used as an American military base, the settlement is now Greenland's main air transport hub and the site of Greenland's largest commercial airport. The climate in Kangerlussuaq is arctic, with temperatures ranging from -25 to 18 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

What are they Doing?

NASA's P-3 IceBridge Aircraft
NASA's P-3 IceBridge Aircraft
IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever conducted. IceBridge uses a highly specialized fleet of research aircraft and the most sophisticated science instruments ever assembled to characterize yearly changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic. The research team will experience first-hand the excitement of flying a large research aircraft over the Greenland Ice Sheet. While in the air they will record data on the thickness, depth and movement of ice features, resulting in an unprecedented three-dimensional view of ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. Operation IceBridge began in 2009 to bridge the gap in data collection after NASA's ICESat satellite stopped functioning and when the ICESat-2 satellite becomes operational in 2016, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations of polar ice. IceBridge flies over the Arctic and Antarctic every year—in the Arctic from March to May and the Antarctic in October and November. By comparing the year-to-year readings of ice thickness and movement both on land and on the sea, scientists can look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the polar ice and learn more about the trends that could affect sea-level rise and climate around the globe. More information about IceBridge can be found at the NASA project website.


Title Date About Type
Getting MAD about Magnetics Overview NASA's Operation IceBridge images Earth's polar ice in unprecedented detail to better... Lesson
Lesson: Is Greenland Really THAT Big? Overview NASA's Operation IceBridge images Earth's polar ice in unprecedented detail to better... Lesson
Mark Buesing and NASA IceBridge 13 August 2013 This one hour live web event is hosted by Mark Buesing. Mark worked with the NASA IceBridge team to... Event
PolarTREC and NASA's Operation IceBridge Presentation 20 May 2013 This presentation to the District 128 school board highlighted the science and adventure of NASA's... Presentation
Libertyville High School teacher sharing lessons from Greenland NASA mission 24 May 2013 This article summarizes PolarTREC teacher Mark Buesing’s amazing and varied career as a cyclist,... Article
Teacher from Bristol gets up close with Greenland ice studies 12 May 2013 PolarTREC teacher Mark Buesing is interviewed post-expedition talking about his work with NASA in... Article
NASA's IceBridge finishing up successful Arctic campaign 30 April 2013 Article describing the final stages of this year's Operation IceBridge, the NASA campaign to... Article
NASA Begins New Season Of Arctic Ice Science Flights 20 March 2013 Press release about the launch of Operation IceBridge's 2013 season of research activity and... Article
Libertyville Teacher Heading to NASA Polar Project 13 February 2013 Chicago Tribune article describing PolaTREC teacher Mark Buesing's expedition to Greenland with... Article
Libertyville teacher tapped by NASA 25 January 2013 Article describing PolarTREC teacher Mark Buesing's upcoming expedition to Greenland in April to... Article