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22 December, 2002

A day in the life of ANSMET

We knew today was going to be a successful day when we found five meteorites on our way to our systematic starting point. One was right in the middle of the area we searched just a couple of days ago. That's not unusual. These meteorites and the ice look totally different at different times of the day as the sun circles counter-clockwise overhead. It's also not unusual to find a meteorite that others have walked right past. I've done that twice, but I can't brag because others have found meteorites that I've walked right past. In fact today, I wandered back to my ski-doo because I was craving the Pringles I'd hidden in the trunk. As I sat there stuffing my face, I looked down and saw that I had parked right next to a beautiful, black meteorite. I'd like to say that the Pringles recharged my awareness, but I think I was just lucky.

One tool that has helped us quite a bit is Dante's metal detector. It found 19 of the 45 meteorites discovered today. As a team, we have mixed feelings about it. We think it's great that it finds meteorites, even those buried in snow. But it can be disheartening when he goes over an area that we're heading for and finds meteorites. It's even worse when he goes over an area that we've already searched and finds meteorites. I can't complain. 45 meteorites shattered the team's old daily record of 30. That brings us to a total of 214, just for our team.

The Rekki team is following close behind with over 160 meteorites. They are still in the LaPaz/Pecora region and are having lots of success. Their spirits are high and between the two teams, we're having a very successful season.

One of the reasons for our success is not only the abundance of the meteorites, but the fun we have in finding them. At lunch today, Jamie led us up to a natural snow "half-pipe," like one would see at a snow board competition. He cut "stairs" in the side with an ice ax and we took turns climbing it and sledding down our our backs. It was like a waterslide without the wetness.

We also have fun naming the areas we visit. These are not official names for these locations, but Antarctica is one of the only places where few landmarks have names. We give them names so that we know where we're going for the day. One of the first moraines we searched we named Harvaine Moraine after our P.I., Dr. Ralph Harvey, back in Cleveland. The next moraine we couldn't agree on a name so it has become "That Moraine." Today we had most of our success on Quiche Moraine, named by Scott Messenger who is manly enough to admit he is a fan of quiche lorraine.

We are starting to look forward to Christmas. It's kind of a running joke down here that we're expecting a "White Christmas." It was cool again today with the winds coming out of the south. It's kind of backwards to the way we think of things in the Northern Hemisphere. The cool winds come from the south and cool us down like an "Alberta Clipper" does to the United States in the winter. For a short time today, the winds shifted and came from the north bringing warmer temperatures. I wish it had lasted longer.

Tomorrow, we'll probably go back to Quiche Moraine. We saw a pattern today where the meteorites seemed to accumulate along the perimeter, but not in the interior. We all have our theories on why, but for the meantime, we're content with simply collecting the little rocks from space.

Jamie sliding down the natural "half-pipe" at lunch.

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