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North Pole (towards 85° North)

The GV will travel as far north as possible, getting as close to 85° north, just 5° shy of the North Pole (90° N, 0°W). The aircraft needs enough fuel to get back to Anchorage, so it can only reach 85° N, but it is still able to get great samples of the atmosphere at northern latitudes.

With the sun only rising and setting only a few hours apart during the polar autumn months, the crew on the Phase I mission were able to experience two sunrises on their 7.5 hour flight towards the North Pole and back. On their northbound route, they saw the sunrise in the east out of the right-side of the plane and on the southbound route they experienced yet another sunrise out the left side of the plane.

Image Narration | Shadow of the Earth by Steve Wofsy, Principal Investigator

Listen to Steve Wofsy, HIPPO Principal Investigator, narrate how this picture shows the shadow of the Earth in the Arctic.

This image shows the shadow of the Earth as it's reflected off of little ice particles that are in the Arctic atmosphere. In the sunset, anywhere in the country if the air is very clear and you look to the east you can sometimes see the shadow of the Earth, but this angle and this very cold atmosphere makes a particularly dramatic shot. And underneath you see the Alaska Range, which is obviously very forbidding and in many respects very starkly beautiful at this time of year.

Alert, Nunavut, Canada Weather | Closest Town to North Pole


HIPPO is a landmark study for many reasons, not the least of which is it is the first time scientists have systematically mapped global distribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, covering the full troposphere in all seasons and multiple years.

  • HIPPO I :: 8 January-30 January 2009
  • HIPPO II :: 31 October-22 November 2009
  • HIPPO III :: 24 March-16 April 2010
  • HIPPO IV :: 14 June-11 July 2011
  • HIPPO V :: 9 August-9 September 2011