Highlights from ANSMET 2017

Amazing Antarctic ice mountains! Bottom-center is a skidoo for size reference! Image credit: ANSMET

Amazing Antarctic ice mountains! Bottom-center is a skidoo for size reference! Image credit: ANSMET

Happy New Year!

Our first blog of the season will feature some highlights from the ANSMET (Antarctic Search for Meteorites) field group, which goes on a 3 month journey into the Antarctic region to hunt stones from space! While out there, they keep an online journal full of fun and fantastic views! Here are some highlights:

1-Nov. 29, 2017: Here we got some orientation first about what to expect tomorrow for our deployment (basically being squished like sardines into a bit military airplane for 8 hours), how to be smart and protect the pristine and amazing environment of Antarctica, rules and regulations about living there, dangers and hazards that the harsh climate poses on us, and how to protect the fauna and flora from us people. Then our computers were inspected and some of us got their flu vaccinations (which is a must have when going to Antarctica).

2-Dec. 25, 2017: Well, let us give you an impression of the conditions here at the moment. It is constant daylight; that’s a good thing. It is cold, -20C, it is windy, 25-40 mph gusts, -70C windchill. Taking relief outside doesn’t sound appealing does it? Those Nalgenes have a name in McMurdo; in fact, they’re famous. They’re called “pee bottles”. 

3-Dec. 26, 2017: Our meals however have been almost strictly plant based to ensure good health: so far we have had expired frying-pan bread with cranberries (fruit) and lots of butter (the best thing about tent days is that we don’t eat freakin oatmeal for breakfast!), lots of chocolate (technically a fruit), maple-syrup (totally plant based) candies, Pringles (potatoes are veggies), lots of tea (self-explanatory), hot chocolate (see above), and fruit juice (also self-explanatory). For dinner we will have tater tots (potatoes this technically veggies) and cheese (we totally need some non-plant based protein to keep body heat production up). We decided against other frozen veggies like green beans since you don’t get much body heat out of those. 

4-Dec. 27, 2017: However, the meteorites we find are not pristine falls. They have been transported by glaciers, knocked against other rocks, and been exposed to the katabatic wind. So oftentimes, the meteorites we find are partially broken, having only some of their original fusion crust. They may have some sharp broken edges. They may show some of their insides too.

5-Jan. 3, 2018: Antarctica is magical, beautiful, and mesmerizing, but it tries to kill you every second you are here. 

You can read more from their archives: http://caslabs.case.edu/ansmet/

Thank you for reading and next week- some updates on Mars!

Caitlin Ahrens