NASA EM-31 Ice Thickness Project on the North Pole.

NASA EM-31 Ice Thickness Project.

North Pole Expedition 2003.
Rhett Herman holding the EM-31 Ice Thickness Tester.
This is the home page for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ice Thickness Project on the North Pole and Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway. April 2003.
North Pole Expedition 2003.
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This exhibit was posted on 5-29-2003


Please Note:  The background on this page is an aerial photo of the sea ice near the island of Svalbard, Norway.

NASA EM-31 On the North Pole Page 1
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Rhett and Jim prepare the NASA EM-31 Ice Thickness Tester for initial use
Photo by C. Jeff Dyrek
Rhett Herman and Jim Prepare the EM-31 for initial use in Longyearbyen.  The Radisson hotel is warm and this is where the initial equipment setup and primary operational test are made.  If it doesn't work here, it won't work on the ice.

The purpose of the EM-31 project is to measure the thickness of the ice and compare the results to a satellite to ensure the satellite accuracy.

Click Here's a link to the NASA Site about the EM-31 Project. 

Webmasters note:  Looking back at this expedition of 2003 from the year 2006.  I have worked as an Avionics Technician for eighteen years for both the military and civilian.  When I heard about the EM-31 project I was so excited that I absolutely had to see this unit on the inside and learn how it worked.  It was like an uncontrollable obsession.  It was about midnight and I went to the hotel manager and demanded that he wake Professor Herman up and introduce him to me.  The manager immediately said that he absolutely couldn't do that and I would have to wait until the morning.  I repeatedly demanded that he complied with my request, when Professor Herman walked into the lobby.  The manager said, "There he is right there." 

I talked to Professor Herman and strongly requested that he immediately show me the EM-31 and open it up so I could see inside.  After about an hour of talking, he did exactly that.  We had a great time the rest of the night working with the EM-31 on the ice of Longyearbyen Bay.  I just want to thank Professor Herman and the rest of his crew who stayed on the ice with me all night, missing a night of sleep, just because I was so curious.  It was a great experience.



Hi Jeff,

Yes, I remember that time of trying to get things fixed so we could go back up quickly and get the data. Unfortunately things didn’t work out then. However they have worked out for other trips north after that. We’ve done more sophisticated measurements of the sea ice since then, but up in Barrow. The equipment that we now have is the next generation of electrical resistivity (OhmMapper) and now we have state-of-the-art ground penetrating radar. At some point it would be very interesting and useful to get this equipment to the pole and do a study that would be much more than we tried last time.

Interesting history stuff you’ve found. It actually relates to something we’ve been doing here at Radford University. In July we took a research group to Guadalcanal to look for MIAs from the Guadalcanal invasion. We did not find anything this trip but we ruled out with certainly the presence of any burials in our survey area in July. We’re hoping to get back there this summer or the next to hit another, more likely (we now believe) area.

I like the things you’ve brought together about the planes. From a physics standpoint I’m fascinated with the tech details of such things.  I’ve been to the Air and Space museum a couple of times (in DC and at Udvar-Hazy) and it’s always fascinating to see the evolution of the aviation technology/engineering/materials/knowledge.







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