updated 6/8/2010 6:52:18 PM ET 2010-06-08T22:52:18

NASA is launching a mission from Alaska next month, but it won't be into space.

The agency will take to the sea June 15 from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians on its first dedicated oceanographic field campaign.

The voyage is billed as an up close look at how conditions in the Arctic are affecting ocean chemistry and ecosystems that play a critical role in global climate change.

More than 40 scientists will spend five weeks on board the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the country's most technologically advanced polar icebreaker. The Seattle-based Healy provides more than 4,200 square feet of scientific laboratory space.

Scientists will sample physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas and sea ice.

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