Out on the big ice
Greetings to all ANSMET Followers,
There are good days and then there are GREAT DAYS, this was the latter. ANSMETTeam 2013-14 spent the entire day “Hunting Meteorites” on the Big Ice today. Thereis no way to fully describe the boundless joy that surges forth as one navigates on the blue ice astride a trusty snowmachine. Unparalleled savage beauty surrounds the “hunter” as a keen eye scans the ice for signs of the quarry, all the while maintaining spacing in the search line and safely negotiating the sastrugi and snow drifts. We search the blue ice, a static crystalized ocean with infinite surface patterns and wave-like undulations.
Topography changes may provide the proper dynamics to form crevasses, These jagged tears in the ice surface usually fill with a thin, soft accumulation of snow, that conceals the depth of fracture. We took advantage of these features to practice recognition and investigate the wonders that they contain. Low vapor pressure allows for the most exquisite ice crystals to form beneath the surface.
As wondrous as the “hunting” process is it is finding that creates instant excitement. Upon finding a meteorite we all gather and set about the business of precise collection. Elation is mixed with intense analysis of the specimen, in hushed tomeswe share observations and speculations. These alien visitors are lavished with respect and the utmost care as we extract them from the icy medium of transport and prepare them to share the secrets of their voyage. 37 meteorites were collected this day, including two probable achondrites that present the hope for amazing findings.
Taking pride in the smallest find of the day
As always all our families and friends are in our thoughts.
From all of us reveling in this experience and proud of the chance to serve science here in Antarctica, Best Wishes and warm regards.
- posted by Steve 6 January 2014 (edited by rph)
John with meteorite
This is a quick note, written on a full lunch belly, prior to heading out to the moraine with ALL EIGHT of the ANSMET crew to collect our first meteorites! The rest of our group arrived yesterday in a flurry of five Twin Otter flights (those Kenn Borek pilots rock! Have I mentioned that yet? ) in brisk winds – 20 knots to start, decreasing throughout the day. We set up tents, ate some glorious freshies (fresh fruits and veggies hand carried by our teammates from McMurdo), then collapsed into bed. We are now in the middle of a sunny day with just a few knots of wind- perfect searching weather. We’re so glad to be all here, all together, and ready to get some meteorites in the bag. More from us very soon!
-posted by Jani (editing by rph)
the big blue
(Note from the editor: the low bandwidth of the Iridium email system can have strange effects as it shuffles data from one satellite to another, then downlinks to servers which may choke up with messages, resulting in emails squirting out of buffers days after they were sent. That’s what happened with this post, obviously prepared on New Years Day.)
We send a warm hello to all of our faithful blog followers. For most of you, this is a greeting from the future – and from here in the Miller Range, 2014 looks bright and hopeful. We are still without the rest of our field party, and we wait anxiously for good news on that front daily. Because of an already stressed flight schedule from agency cutbacks, plus unforseen aircraft mechanical issues and then bad weather on our 5 or 6 total hours of window for putting in last week, the odds were not in their favor for getting out. But now some other things have fallen into place, so we are crossing our fingers that we’ll be a complete team by this weekend or early next week.
(note from the editor: the field party was completed late yesterday; this post was prepared 4 days ago.)
In the meantime, we’ve been traversing the wide, beautiful blue ice fields around camp to assess their productivity. Aside from the good fortune of being out in such amazing scenery, with huge swells of blue ice, capped with frothy white sastrugi contorted into unreal sculptures, and with high craggy mountains in the distance, we’ve also been able to find a fair number of meteorites. Some of these, especially out on the blue ice, are large, maybe up to 10 inches or more, and we have found at least one achondrite (from a large planetary body). We have to carefully flag them in case we can’t get back to collect them this year, because we are missing two other key pieces of equipment – our collection kits and the solar panels for charging electronics. So we await the rest of our team to be fully operational here. We fired up our emergency generator last night so that we could send a blog, since it’s been awhile – thanks for checking back. We’ve enjoyed being together very much, and have shared some yummy holiday meals, plus music, in our tents. One nightly ritual we love is to hear readings from Johnny each night. We hear poems by Robert Service about the early Yukon days, and he is reading the journals of Amundsen and Scott, compiled by Roland Huntford. Follow along, if you like. We hope to check back in again soon!
Many thanks to Ralph, Zac, Eric and Dad for the texts and to Amber and Summer for the presents!
A wild New Years Eve party
- posted by Jani (dated 1 Jan 2014)
Good News deserves to be repeated verbatim……
Just wanted to let you know that I spoke with Johnny Schutt tonight, and ALL members of G-058 are now happily camping together at South Miller Range. They had a long, successful day moving from CTAM. They were very much looking forward to their dinner!
Hope you can stay warm and safe back there in the States!
Communications Operator, Mac Ops
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
-Posted by rph from C-C-C-C-OLD Cleveland
Hi all, I didn’t hear from the ANSMET folks at Miller Range or CTAM directly, but I did hear from my McMurdo colleagues. The four ANSMET folks at CTAM (Jim, Jani, Manavi and Alex) spent the night there. They are scheduled to start Twin Otter flights up to the Miller Range at about 4 pm east coast time today. It shouldn’t be too long before we get regular news broadcast directly from our studios in the Miller Range!
-posted by RPH from snowy Cleveland
Pic of twin otter shuttle from 2012-2013 season
Hi all, a little third-hand news courtesy of friends in McMurdo. The four ANSMET people who had been stranded for so long in McMurdo made it to CTAM late yesterday after one of the wierdest, longest delays in our 35+ year history of field work. They reported that all is well. Today they are scheduled for a full day of shuttling people and gear up to the Miller Range using our favorite small workhorse of a plane, the Twin Otters flown by Ken Borek Air.
As usual, I’ll update you as I learn more.
-posted by rph from snowy Cleveland
NPR’s Weekend Edition managed to do a story on ANSMET this morning, including a satellite phone call with the gang at Miller Range recorded a few days ago. You can read the story, listen to the broadcast and/or download it HERE (NPR.ORG)
There are a number of errors in the story, including a picture of a cryoconite hole labelled as a meteorite, a windstorm labelled as a white-out, and the most aggregious, giving NSF credit for the work instead of NASA. I’ve let them know these should be fixed.
And sorry for the lack of warning- I got no warning myself.
Whoever said “Life’s good but not fair at all” knew what he was saying. Here’s the perfect example: all of us stuck at McMurdo were on a backup mission to two primary missions flying this morning. One of them got cancelled due to weather early in the morning which made us really optimistic about flying out today. So we hunkered down and waited patiently… ok, slightly impatiently, but only because we had never got such a clear chance in the last 2 weeks. When MacOps finally contacted us we were told we shouldn’t get our hopes high but they were going to transport us to the runway and we were to wait there for more news. It didn’t look good but we were just excited to get out of McMurdo and go someplace new. We were totally ready for them to send us back home from the terminal. When they finally said we were going to fly it seemed very surreal. So, Jim, Morgan, Alex, and I got on the Herc, it took off, and without much ado, it was 1.5 hours into the journey. When it felt like we were about to land, I allowed myself a broad grin – this was really happening, we could be at Miller Range by the end of the day…. Nope – stupid, stupid me! The loadmaster sitting next to me tapped me on my shoulder in answer to my grin (that I swear, no one was supposed to see) and signaled that we were turning back. It took the four of us a few minutes to realize he wasn’t kidding us. We looked out the tiny windows and there was a complete white-out over CTAM. They could not risk landing in such conditions and the plane had to turn back. I wanted to ask them if they were willing to let us parachute out… how could we go back now, we were right above CTAM!? The last 2 hours felt like a cruel joke. Not fair, right? I thought we had done our time. Within 5 hours we were back in sunny McMurdo. Oh well, we’ll try again tomorrow… we are one of 3 backup flights, so it doesn’t look too good but you never know!
Here’s Jim (photo by Alex) with a carton of fresh veggies, all smiles before he gets on the plane. Wish there was an after-photo…
This is what it looked like halfway through the journey… how could this glorious weather not follow us to CTAM?
It betrayed us over CTAM …
Our cargo blew my mind when I saw it all palletized on the plane. This is what the 4 of us need to survive in the field. I now appreciate how complicated the logistics of these flights might be..
Finally, the highlight of our day… a lone emperor penguin by the roadside, on the way to Pegasus runway.
-posted by Manavi from (regretably) McMurdo (edited by rph)
Okay, just got an update from both Alex and Manavi that they’re still in McMurdo but hopeful for today.
Manavi said…….” We didn’t make it out yesterday. We are backup to a Union Glacier and Pole flight today (28th) and the Union Glacier flight just got cancelled about an hour ago because of weather. So it looks good for today, although I’m not sure why we haven’t been activated yet. If you don’t hear from one of us by mid-day today, we will be on our way
Alex said……. ”I attached a screen shot of our favorite TV channel. The good is that they will fly tomorrow, Sunday”.
NOTE from editor- it’s that BDM line for flight P030 and for the Twin Otter KBG that we’re hoping for….
-posted by RPH from Cleveland
No posts from either team in the last two days strongly suggests the mcmurdo group are finally on the move. As noted previously, the folks already at Miller Range don’t have a lot of electrical capacity so they’re not posting, and if they’re on the move, the McMurdo folks are just 100% too busy. I’m taking the quiet as a good sign.
-posted by rph from Cleveland, OH