In temperatures that drop below -20 degrees Fa…

In temperatures that drop below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, along a route occasionally blocked by wind-driven ice dunes, a hundred miles from any other people, a team led by two of our scientists are surveying an unexplored stretch of Antarctic ice

They’ve packed extreme cold-weather gear and scientific instruments onto sleds pulled by two tank-like snow machines called PistenBullys, and after a stop at the South Pole Station (seen in this image), they began a two- to three-week traverse.

The 470-mile expedition in one of the most barren landscapes on Earth will ultimately provide the best assessment of the accuracy of data collected from space by the Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), set to launch in 2018.

This traverse provides an extremely challenging way to assess the accuracy of the data. ICESat-2’s datasets are going to tell us incredible things about how Earth’s ice is changing, and what that means for things like sea level rise.

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