Thursday, November 4, 2010

Back in Town

I'm back at McMurdo Station this weekend to process the samples I've been collecting over the past three weeks!

McMurdo Station is the main US base in Antarctica and is home (as of yesterday) to 1143 scientists and support staff (I guess I make it 1144 in total). The base is perched on the rocky shores of Ross Island, about a 45 minute helicopter flight from Lake Hoare in Taylor Valley.

In the above photo, you can see the big fuel tanks (to the right) that keep the lights on and the buildings warm. In the middle of the picture is the cargo yard, where several years of supplies are kept (in case weather turns bad, planes can't fly, and the resupply ship can't break through the ice). Over on the left side of the image is a gray building that's in three pieces connected by ramps. That's the Crary laboratory, which is the scientific heart of the station. It's where I'm writing from right now!

The bright white expanse to the far left is the frozen surface of the Ross Sea. All in all, it's a very tidy station, but after a few weeks out hiking and sampling, it seems like the big city!

In my next post, we'll take a closer look at what I'm doing in the lab, and just what it means to be washing dirt.

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