(UTIG Twin Otter and BT-67)

University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) researchers use a multibeam, scanning photon counting laser altimeter to measure ice surface elevation. This instrument scans the surface on either side of the aircraft’s flight path with one hundred laser beamlets that allow a three-dimensional reconstruction of the ice. This laser altimeter can make over two million measurements per second and surveys a swath 400 meters (1,300 feet) wide. UTIG aircraft also carry a fixed laser altimeter, a predecessor to the scanning LiDAR, to provide comparison data.


Ice on Antarctica's Ellsworth Mountains, 10/22/2012 Ice on the Ellsworth Mountains in Antarctica as seen from the IceBridge DC-8 on Oct. 22, 2012. The Ellsworth Mountains are home to Antarctica’s highest point, Vinson Massif (16,050 ft / 4,892 m). Credit: NASA / James Yungel