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23 December, 2002

Technology in the Field

The one thing that really separates us from the early expeditions to Antarctica is the technology we bring with us into the field. Some days it feels like we are slaves to it, constantly working on generating electrical power through solar panels and a wind turbine, or troubleshooting a computer problem. But mostly it makes our lives easier and connects us to the outside world. Just this afternoon, as we returned from our meteorite searching, there was a mad rush to use the satellite telephone.

We generally finish around 5:00PM which is 11:00PM (the previous night) on the east coast, 10:00PM Central, 9:00PM Mountain, and only 8:00PM Pacific. We have members of our team from all these time zones, so generally, the east coast people get the phone first. Monday's are big for Danny and I because he calls home to San Diego and gets the football highlights. Sounds like neither of our teams did very well this weekend. But it's really amazing that I can find out that the Broncos blew their playoff chances in the middle of Antarctica through the use of technology! I don't feel so badly now about missing the playoffs.

When we do our searching, we employ GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. Nancy uploads the coordinates of each meteorite to a satellite. Hopefully patterns will develop. We used previously surveyed points at Goodwin Nunatak to determine new places to search. We also use satellite photographs of the area to determine the extent of the blue ice fields and the moraines.

We spent our morning inventorying our meteorites and searching the blue ice right next to camp. We broke for lunch and headed back to Quiche Moraine. We were almost as successful as yesterday, but we are still perplexed as to why meteorites are only found on the perimeter and why gaps occur in their distribution. Dante's metal detector wasn't as productive as yesterday and seemed to have a hard time detecting the meteorites we found. They might be a variety that is not as detectable as the ones we found yesterday. We finished the afternoon searching a small wedge of ice near That Moraine. We found two very beautiful specimens and Nancy found a glove Dante lost there last week. All told, we came home with 39 meteorites, bringing our total to 253.

We finished the day with the "ANSMET Company Christmas Party," which basically consisted of our group enjoying the nice weather outside this afternoon and listening to Christmas music on Linda's I-Pod and Dante's computer and external speakers. Ahhh...technology again. This party was not to be confused with the upcoming ANSMET Christmas Eve call to the Rekki team planned for tomorrow night, nor to be confused with the ANSMET gift exchange scheduled for Wednesday. With so many Christmas parties, it really feels like we're home. We also signed up for times to use the satellite phone to call our loved ones because the satellite phone will be a precious commodity on Christmas and the day after (Christmas back home).

Tomorrow, we're excited to go to Jacob's Nunatak (actual name, not invented by ANSMET) to explore some new blue ice fields. The skies have clouded over tonight after a picture perfect day so we'll have to watch the weather closely before we make any plans. Hopefully our luck will continue.

Mr. C typing up a previous journal on Dante's computer which is powered by a battery that is recharged daily by his own solar panel. (Photo by Dante Lauretta)

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