This image from NASA's Terra spacecraft shows a massive crack across the Pine Island Glacier, a major ice stream that drains the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Eventually, the crack will extend all the way across the glacier.
Add image to your album
Email this page Post this page to your Facebook wall Tweet this page

NASA Spacecraft Images Massive Crack in Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier

In mid-October 2011, NASA scientists working in Antarctica discovered a massive crack across the Pine Island Glacier, a major ice stream that drains the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Extending for 19 miles (30 kilometers), the crack was 260 feet (80 meters) wide and 195 feet (60 meters) deep. Eventually, the crack will extend all the way across the glacier, and calve a giant iceberg that will cover about 350 square miles (900 square kilometers). This image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NAS's Terra spacecraft was acquired Nov. 13, 2011 and covers an area of 27 by 32 miles (44 by 52 kilometers), and is located near 74.9 degrees south latitude, 101.1 degrees west longitude.

With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched Dec. 18, 1999, on Terra. The instrument was built by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team is responsible for validation and calibration of the instrument and data products.

The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change. Example applications are: monitoring glacial advances and retreats; monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties; wetlands evaluation; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology; and measuring surface heat balance.

The U.S. science team is located at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.

More information about ASTER is available at http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Image details

ID#:
PIA15077

Date added:
2011-11-15

Target:
Earth

Mission:
Terra

Spacecraft:
Terra

Instruments:
Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER)

Size:
2952 x 3479 pixels (width x height)

Rating:



Views:
2,802

Full-Res TIFF:
PIA15077.tif (30.81 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA15077.jpg (1.27 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team