17 January, 1998

Good Morning!

Well, it is our first full day on the ship.  I am standing the 6am to 6pm 
watch.  This means that I get to keep an eye on all the equipment and 
make sure we are collecting data during that time.  They are long hours, 
but they are fun!  

The Research Vessel (RV for short) Nathaniel B. Palmer is an ice breaker! 
 It has a strengthened hull and special engines that help it to get 
through thick sea ice.  Sea ice floats at the surface of the ocean.  Each 
year as the temperatures in Antarctica cool, the sea surface cools and a 
thin blanket of ice develops.  The blanket of sea ice that forms around 
Antarctica each winter almost doubles the size of the continent!  As the 
summer arrives, the sea ice melts again.    The Palmer is designed to be 
able to break through this ice.  The ship actually rides up a little onto 
the thin ice and the weight of the bow (the front of the ship) breaks the 
ice.  The ship then backs up and roars ahead again using its powerful 
engines.  When we break through ice, it sounds like we are going through 
a car wash.

If we broke off a piece of sea ice and melted it, do you think the water 
would be salty or not?  Maybe you could try making sea ice.  Fill a 
plastic cup with a little salt (if you put too much, it won't freeze - 
why?) and some water.  Put the cup in the freezer and let it freeze half 
way.  Take the ice out and taste it.  Taste the salt water remaining in 
the cup.  Which is saltier?  Why do you think you get the answers you do?

The ship is about 300 feet long, or as long as a football field.  It has 
two levels below the water line and 5 levels (or decks) above the water 
line.  My cabin is on the first deck.  Most of our work is on the main 
deck, which is close to the water.  We have a laundry room, a gym to work 
out in with a sauna, a video room, and a library. The galley is my 
favorite place!  There are cookies and cake there all the time.

Most of my work is in the lab space, or on the back deck.  We have lots 
of computers and many pieces of equipment that help us image the ocean 
floor around us.  Why do you think we want to do that?  

Well, I am almost off watch.  I am going to have dinner and then help 
plan what we are going to do tomorrow.  We need to plot our positions on 
a map so that we can project where we are going.........

Tomorrow I will tell you all about what we are researching in the Ross 

Hope to hear from you soon!

E. Shackleton Bear

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