Archive by category | Antarctic field research 2010

Antarctica 2010: Ice core drilling

Antarctica 2010: Ice core drilling

After four nights at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide field camp, an LC-130 plane finally landed and brought us back to McMurdo Station, the final stop on the trip before leaving the continent. WAIS Divide gets some of the worst weather in Antarctica — but that’s why it’s the home of one of the most highly anticipated ice-coring projects in the world.  Read more

Antarctica 2010: A brief hiatus

Editor’s note: Chaz has flown to the camp for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide project, where he has limited internet connectivity. Storms also suggest that he may be there for a couple of days before he can hop a plane ride out. Posting will resume when he re-emerges back at McMurdo.  Read more

Antarctica 2010: Pointing a telescope at the ground

Antarctica 2010: Pointing a telescope at the ground

Say the word “telescope” at the South Pole and you’ll be directed to one of two large dishes at the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory, each of which searches the sky for cosmic microwave background radiation left over from the Big Bang: The South Pole Telescope and BICEP, the brawny name for Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization. But there is a third telescope at the Pole, though it doesn’t really look like one. That’s because it’s pointed downward.  Read more

Antarctica 2010: Marooned at the South Pole

Antarctica 2010: Marooned at the South Pole

At long last, we’ve reached the South Pole, nearly a century after Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott (for whom the South Pole base is named) planted their flags here just a month apart. It’s definitely quite cold here, but my first impression of the place upon exiting our LC-130 was actually that the South Pole is remarkably flat. You can look out in any direction here — pick your favorite North — and literally see nothing but snow until you reach the horizon.  Read more

Antarctica 2010: Hunting for galaxy clusters

Antarctica 2010: Hunting for galaxy clusters

After two days at McMurdo Station, we leave tomorrow for the South Pole, home of the new South Pole Telescope (SPT), which saw its first light in 2007. But before we head over there, I had the chance to speak with John Carlstrom, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago who leads a research team at the SPT. We’ll hear from Carlstrom again later, but for now he offered a taste of the work his team is doing there:  … Read more

Antarctica 2010: A room with a view

Antarctica 2010: A room with a view

New arrivals to McMurdo undergo a grueling field training process affectionately called “Happy Camper Training,” which involves spending the night in a tent camped out on sea ice. But due to the brevity of our visit to Antarctica, we didn’t have time to spend the night, so our training session today was bumped down a notch to “Happy Picnic Training.”  … Read more

Antarctica 2010: Made it to McMurdo!

Antarctica 2010: Made it to McMurdo!

It took three nights, two delays and one boomerang, but we’ve finally reached Antarctica. Touching down on the ice runway at Pegasus Field was the smoothest landing I’ve experienced, but that should come as no surprise: Once the doors opened and we stepped outside, we could see flat ice for miles in every direction.  Read more

Antarctica 2010: Boomeranged!

Antarctica 2010: Boomeranged!

Five hours of flight from the Christchurch airport to the ice sheet was for naught today — unfavorable conditions at McMurdo prevented us from landing there, even as the ice stretched out tantalizingly below us. Our C-17 jet circled around over the ice for about an hour in a holding pattern to see if the visibility would improve, but alas, we pulled a 180 and headed back another four hours to New Zealand (with a tailwind, thankfully).  Read more

Antarctica 2010: How to pack for the ultimate trip

Antarctica 2010: How to pack for the ultimate trip

The fickle Antarctic weather went against us today, and our flight to the ice was delayed until tomorrow. But a delay on the ground is much better than “boomeranging,” the upbeat name given to the dispiriting process of turning around mid-flight. When that happens, checked bags can remain on the plane for up to three days, and the only item returned to passengers is their “boomerang bag,” which we’re instructed to pack with toiletries and a change of clothes.  Read more

Antarctica 2010: Questions for our correspondent?

Editor’s note: Chaz’s flight to the ice has been delayed for 24 hours because of weather, but in the meantime if you have any questions for him — how he got into this business, what’s like to be going to Antarctica, what penguins are really like when you see them up close and personal — you can post them in the comments field below; email his editor Alex at a.witze[at]us.nature.com; or DM her on Twitter at @alexwitze.  Read more