As a support scientist for NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission, Jeremy Harbeck spends most of his time processing data at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. But it was on a recent visit to Greenland that he snapped this striking composite image of an iceberg frozen into North Star Bay.

According to NASA:

He had just arrived at Greenland’s Thule Air Base on March 20 when a mechanical issue grounded the aircraft. No science flight could happen for a few days. As teams in the United States and Greenland scrambled to locate and deliver a replacement part, researchers on the ground waited. Some of them hiked to what was locally known as “the iceberg.”

The unnamed berg pictured above has been frozen in place by sea ice in North Star Bay. Harbeck shot the photograph — a composite of four 49-second images — on March 21 at about 2:30 a.m. local time. The sun never fully sets at this time of year in the Arctic, so sunlight appears on the left side of the image. Lights from Thule are visible on the right side. Look for the Milky Way (top left) and a few very faint meteors visible in the early morning sky.

... “You don’t have a sense of scale of this berg until you get up to it,” Harbeck said. “It’s about the size of my apartment building, and that’s only the part protruding from the water.” Assuming the berg is ungrounded (which is uncertain), about one-tenth of its mass is above water.

Operation IceBridge uses aircraft and scientific instruments to study the Earth’s polar ice “to better understand processes that connect the polar regions with the global climate system.” This short video shows the mission in action.