Operation IceBridge also gathers data about the magnetic properties of bedrock beneath ice sheets and glaciers to help identify the type of rock present. The magnetometer, which resides in the tail boom or “stinger” on the P-3B, measures minute changes in the magnetic field below. Knowing the rock type helps improve the models of the shape of the bed. Different rock types also change the basal conditions of a glacier, so understanding more about the bedrock will tell us more about how the ice and rock will interact.

The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics’ (UTIG) operates a cesium vapor magnetometer that resides in a tail boom of the BT-67.

More about Columbia University’s gravimeter and magnetometer

Data plot from the magnetometer

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