2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

A systems approach to understanding the Ross Ocean and ice Shelf Environment and Tectonic setting Through Aerogeophysical surveys and modeling (ROSETTA)

no photo available


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator

Dr. Robin E Bell

Columbia University
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Palisades, New York

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: On station / Ross Ice Shelf


The Ross Ocean and ice Shelf Environment, and Tectonic setting Through Aerogeophysical surveys and modeling (ROSETTA) project aims to advance understanding of the dynamics of the ice-shelf system. To accomplish this, ROSETTA researchers will collect new high-resolution data that will determine the thickness and structure of the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) and characterize the bedrock and seabed bathymetry under the ice shelf. The ROSETTA surveys will acquire magnetic and gravity data for geologic interpretations, and radar, LiDAR, and imagery for mapping the RIS fine structure, including crevasses and channels, debris, and the distribution of marine ice and accumulation.

Field Season Overview

The ROSETTA project will install and operate an integrated ice imaging system (IcePod) from McMurdo station on New York Air National Guard (NYANG) LC-130 aircraft on airborne surveys of the Ross Ice Shelf region in Antarctica. The instrumentation package consists of a scanning laser for precise measurements of the ice surface, visible and infrared imaging cameras to document the ice surface structure and temperature, ice-penetrating radar to recover the ice thickness and study the ice/ocean interface and shallow-ice radar to measure snow accumulation. Geo-referencing of the measurements will be provided by precision GPS satellite data integrated with inertial technology. Gravity and magnetics will also be employed on the ROSETTA project in conjunction with IcePod on NYANG LC-130 aircraft. ALAMO floats will be deployed along the RIS front to measure temperature, salinity and current profiles. The NYANG 109th Airlift Wing will transport the entire IcePod package, including gravity and magnetics, via LC-130 from the U.S. to Antarctica. Another gravity system owned and operated by GNS New Zealand will be deployed separately from Christchurch to McMurdo on an LC-130 aircraft. IcePod, including ITAR and data reduction critical items, will return with the last C-17, if possible; other IcePod cargo coming out of Antarctica will be shipped via commercial air freight as soon as possible after the completion of IcePod field work with respect to flight lines. Field activities in Antarctic will include dedicated flight missions for ROSETTA on an LC-130 aircraft through the duration of November 1 - December 1, 2016, and further dedicated flights over a three week period in November 2016 to complete the data set, with typical flight times in the region of 6-8 hours with the intention of flying 2 flights per day. The first flight will involve a 2-3 hour shakedown component to ensure that all instruments are functioning properly. The shakedown flight will be followed by the first data acquisition flight. The initial installation of the SABIR arm, IcePod, racks and two gravimeters require 1-2 days. Subsequently, the equipment can be de-installed and re-installed according to the following:

-SABIR ARM, De-Installed in 1 hour, Reinstalled in 2 hour -ICEPOD, De-Installed in 1/2 hour, Reinstalled in 1/2 hour -RACKS, De-Installed in 1 hour, Reinstalled in 2-3 hours -GRAVIMETERS, De-Installed in 1 hour, Reinstalled in 1 hour

The IcePod system has its own ruggedized container for movement and storage. The gravimeters operate separately and need to be plugged into a power supply and kept warm at all times once they have been calibrated. The gravimeters will be installed on the aircraft before every flight and returned to the IcePod Rac-Tent after completed flight missions with the exception of back-to-back flights when the gravimeters may remain on the aircraft. The gravimeters, each strapped to a speed pallet, will be moved by forklift to and from the survey aircraft. A spare UPS from the IcePod system will be used to maintain power as the gravimeter is transferred from IcePod Rac-Tent to the aircraft. A group of supporting science and engineering staff, consisting of 12-14 ROSETTA personnel, including two GNS personnel from the New Zealand gravity team, will be deployed to McMurdo during this period. The ROSETTA team will need engineering and office space as well as space for data download and quality control at the Rac-Tent. The team will also require a base of operations in the Crary laboratory at McMurdo. Additionally, the ROSETTA/IcePod team will be using the dining facilities at Willy Field during the deployment. Further, the team will need a dedicated van for the transportation of personnel and equipment on base and between McMurdo and Willy Field. The team also requires transport between the Rac-Tent and the aircraft when it is parked in the refueling pits. The IcePod can also be used on opportune missions using the LC-130 as a shared resource for both IcePod science support and NSF infrastructure and logistics support. IcePod leverages the unique experience of the NYANG operating in Antarctica for NSF scientific research as well as infrastructure and logistics.

Deploying Team Members

  • Maya Becker
  • Christopher Bertinato
  • Bethany Burton
  • Sylvia Isabel Cordero
  • Tejendra Dhakal
  • Caitlin Dieck
  • Nicholas Frearson (Co-PI)
  • Chloe Gustafson
  • Susan Howard
  • Caitlin Locke
  • Grant O'Brien
  • David Porter
  • Julian Spergel
  • Kirsteen Tinto