An ice stream is a type of glacier that flows within an ice sheet. These enormous frozen rivers can flow at speeds of up to 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) per year, and can carve deep, narrow cracks in their path.
Instruments aboard the P-3B aircraft can track changes in ice elevation and thickness and can measure the shape of bedrock and water cavities beneath the ice, including detecting tiny changes in gravitational fields below the airborne observatory. These small perturbations can help researchers determine the depth and shape of water cavities beneath floating ice, according to NASA officials.
The airborne science mission is designed to fill the void between the defunct ICESat satellite and the planned ICESat-2, which is slated to launch in 2016.
Original article on LiveScience.
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