I never understand why people on airplanes don't spend 100 percent of their time looking out the windows. But that'd be especially true for this NASA plane that flies low over the Arctic. The views are stunning:

Megan Garber of the Atlantic explains what we're looking at here:

The first thing you should know about Operation IceBridge, NASA's polar ice image-collection effort, is that its purpose is science. The project uses a specialized fleet of research aircraft and what it calls "the most sophisticated suite of innovative science instruments ever assembled" to measure annual changes in the thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets -- measurements that, in turn, help scientists to predict the response of the Earth's polar ice to climate change and the rising sea levels that come with it.