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13 December, 2002

Mission Accomplished

Post by Dante Lauretta

Today was a transition day for the ANSMET Beardmore team. Yesterday we completed our systematic survey of the blue ice fields surrounding Goodwin Nunatak. Most of this region had already been searched by previous ANSMET expeditions so we only had a small area to cover. We spent most of this morning loading up our sledges in preparation for the traverse to MacAlpine Hills tomorrow. Fortunately the weather was on our side. We had a beautiful, clear, sunny, windless day. Every member of the team worked hard. I was given the task of refueling all of the Jerry cans with snowmobile fuel, then loading four fifty-five gallon drums onto a kohoutek, a large, flat sled that is wider than the sledges we use to pull most of our gear. This task required a lot of hard work. Those fuel drums are heavy and difficult to move around. Furthermore, they had been partially buried in a snow drift, requiring a fair bit of shoveling to set them free. Overall, I am surprised by the amount of hard work required for a successful meteorite season. More often than not I go to sleep with sore muscles.

Preparing to leave this area gave me chance to reflect upon my experience so far. Antarctica is an amazing place, an entire continent locked in ice with only the tallest mountains poking through. This trip has really changed my perspective. Right now I am more isolated than I have ever been in my life, but it rarely feels that way. My team members are fantastic and will remain friends for the rest of my life. We also have excellent support from McMurdo Base. They have already flown out twice to resupply or replace defective gear. I am also constantly amazed at the level of technology that we have out here. Right now I am typing on my laptop computer that I have been recharging with a small solar panel for the past week. As soon as I finish writing this I will plug into the Iridium satellite phone and send this message via email to the website. The other night we used my laptop to watch a movie on DVD. These advances make the distance from home seem that much smaller.

We heard from the Rekki team last night on the Iridium phone. They successfully put in to the La Paz ice fields two days ago. This move required five Twin Otter flights from South Pole Station to their field camp. Yesterday was their first day meteorite hunting. They recovered six meteorites, one larger than a grapefruit. Three of the meteorites had a different appearance than most of the rocks that are found here, indicating they may be a more rare variety. They report that there is very little scenery in this area, just blue ice as far as the eye can see.. Cady Coleman said that she was promised by Ralph Harvey that she would see many new sights on this trip, she didn't realize that they would all be the same.

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