One team member is Amy Chiuchiolo, an MSU research associate who has traveled to Antarctica six times in the past. Her latest trip before this ended before Christmas.
"It's hard to go away every year for a couple of months, but it's fun," she said. "You can't beat doing field work."
Priscu said his team members flew through New Zealand to Antarctica where they landed in a C-17 military transport airplane on a glacier about an hour away from McMurdo Station, the largest community in Antarctica. Large-tracked vehicles then took them to McMurdo where approximately 500 people provide support services. To collect and process samples, the team members fly by helicopter to field stations near the lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Transantarctic Mountains.
The field stations have one building where the researchers work with their samples, Priscu said. Diesel generators supply electricity. The researchers sleep in tents. To move around camp, they wear headlamps or carry flashlights when the auroras and the moon are not supplying light.
"I have never had to turn a light on before in the field camp," Chiuchiolo said. The sun shines 24 hours a day during the height of an Antarctic summer.
If conditions allow, the entire team will leave Antarctica on April 17, Priscu said. Priscu, 55, said he doesn't expect to return to Antarctica for another Polar Night. This one alone took almost a decade of planning.
"This is not an old man's game," he said.
He does plan to return as usual during the Antarctic summers.
|Contact: Evelyn Boswell|
Montana State University