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Antarctica's giant iceberg has been photographed in striking new detail
Business Insider8/4/2017 7:47:00 AM

Deimos Imaging, an UrtheCast Company

In early July, a rift in Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf caused the third-largest iceberg ever recorded to break off.

The block of ice, dubbed iceberg A-68, may hang around for years in the open sea, and it is awesome in scale: roughly the area of Delaware, the mass of 5.6 Mount Everests, and voluminous enough to fill Lake Erie — more than twice.

Because it's the middle of winter in Antarctica, though, scientists have struggled to get good optical images of the iceberg. So far, they've relied on polar satellites like Sentinel-1, which uses radar to see through thick cloud cover.

However, a few days of clear weather in late July gave Deimos-1 and Deimos-2 — a pair of satellites that operate as a tag-team — a clear, visible-light view of the scene on the eastern Antarctic Peninsula.

"[T]hese images are striking — easily the best I have seen since calving," Adrian Luckman, a glaciologist at Swansea University and a member of the Antarctic research program Project Midas, told Business Insider in an email.

Here are the new photos, released by Deimos Imaging and Urthecast in an August 3 blog post, and what they show.

This story has been updated to include comments by Adrian Luckman.

Deimos-1 and Deimos-2 follow similar orbits and work together to image the same spots on the ground in medium- and very-high-resolution.

Deimos Imaging; Airbus; Business Insider

Deimos-1 (left) takes wider-angle, medium-resolution images while Deimos-2 (right) takes zoomed-in, very-high-resolution pictures.



In late July, Deimos-1 captured this image of the Antarctic Peninsula and the eastern edge of its Larsen C ice shelf — where iceberg A-68 (center) broke off.

Deimos Imaging, an UrtheCast Company

"This is actually then first visible-light image of A68 that I have seen," Luckman said, "and it shows nicely how the perennial sea ice in the Weddell Sea is hemming A68 in and will probably keep it where it is for a long time."



Days later, Deimos-2 swung by and took two zoomed-in, very-high-resolution images of the iceberg and the rift that spawned it. This view shows a central section of the rift.

Deimos Imaging, an UrtheCast Company


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