Friday, December 30, 2011

National Science Foundation Awards Lockheed Martin Support Services Contract

Lockheed Martin will now be providing the support services for the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Program.  The contract is initially for the next 4.5 years and it could be extended for another 8.5 years.  The logistical support services contract was previously awarded to Raytheon (a Lockheed Martiin competitor also in the defense business) in 1999.  Lockheed Martin was among 7 of the companies bidding for the contract along with Raytheon, although it was not a finalist.  The two other finalists were CH2M Hill of Englewood, Colorado and KBR of Houston, Texas.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

South Pole Cupcakes

The other day I came across a post about North Pole cupcakes for Christmas and instantly thought it would be awesome to adjust the idea to make South Pole cupcakes that resemble the Ceremonial South Pole, which is red and white with a silver mirror style round top.  It took me several days and seven stores before I finally located some regular candy canes (last box at 2nd Target I went to!).  I almost thought about paying ridiculous prices to buy them online because I did not want to wait until next year to make the cupcakes.

To make the South Pole cupcakes, I started by making this Peppermint Vanilla Cupcake Recipe.  If desired, you could also use the frosting recipe there, but I only like cream cheese frosting.  I used this recipe, but I substituted one of the teaspoons of vanilla extract with peppermint extract to make peppermint cream cheese frosting.  I also only used 1.5 cups of powdered sugar, since I do not like it too sweet.

For the actual South Pole that I stuck in the cupcakes I broke off the hook part of the candy cane to end up with just peppermint sticks.  I dipped the rounded end of the stick into melted white chocolate and then dipped it into a bowl of silver pearlized sprinkles (Wilton brand purchased at Michaels craft store).   This did not work out too well when I put it straight into the cupcakes, but it did if I put them on a plate and let the chocolate harden before putting it in the cupcakes.  I also did a few using the frosting instead of white chocolate and that actually worked out much better and could be put straight in the cupcakes without it drooping down.

Sparta Incident

Sparta is a Russian ship that hit a submerged iceberg on December 16, 2011.  The crew abandoned ship when the ship began to take on water, but later returned to the ship to make repairs to keep it afloat while waiting for help to be able to reach them.  The damage caused the ship to list 13 degrees.  Due to the sea ice conditions of their location near the Ross Sea Ice Shelf in Antarctica, the nearest ships could not reach the Sparta because they were not capable of breaking through the ice.  The Aaron, a South Korean ice-strengthened polar research vessel, was then commissioned to rescue the Sparta, but it was at least a week away from the Ross Sea.

On December 17, 2011, the New Zealand Air Force dropped supplies on the ice near the Sparta using a Hercules C130.  The supplies included extra pumping equipment, which helped the crew of 32 (15 Russians, 16 Indonesians, 1 Ukranian) be able to keep the Sparta afloat and make temporary patch repairs to the 30cm hole made by the iceberg.  Overnight the repairs failed and Sparta took on more water, but the crew was able to stop the flow by the morning of December 18, 2011, with the help of the extra pumping equipment.

The crew of the Sparta were able to get the ship back on even keel, but they needed more supplies to try and repair the hole.  A second Royal New Zealand Air Force drop of supplies took place on December 21, 2011.  This drop included pumps, patches, and other equipment.

The Aaron was expected to reach the area where the Sparta is trying to repair itself and remain afloat on December 25, 2011.  The Aaron was traveling with Sparta's sister ship the Chiyo Maru No 3.  It was going too slow and could not handle the ice, so the Aaron temporarily abandoned the rescue to escort the Chiyo Maru No 3 back to open waters.

Aaron finally reached the Sparta about 1am on December 26, 2011 (still Christmas in many other time zones).  The Aaron took on fuel pumped from the Sparta to raise the ship, so that the hole could be seen out of the water and better repaired.  The crews of the Sparta and Aaron repaired the hole with a double plater (one inside and one outside).  They also discovered a second hole, but were able to make the Sparta seaworthy enough to begin being escorted out of the ice on December 28, 2011to meet up with its sister ship Chiyo Maru no. 3 and head north for permanent repairs to be made.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sea Shepherds using drone to track Japanese whalers

This year the Sea Shepherds tracking of the Japanese has gotten more sophisticated with the use of a military-style drone.  This will allow them to cover more ground and perhaps be more successful at stopping the whaling this year.  However, it also means that there is going to be more confrontation and the Whale Wars are very likely to escalate to a whole new level this year.  Might make the upcoming Whale Wars Season 5 on Animal Planet more interesting, but the whole thing seems to be getting more and more ridiculous from both sides.

Related Articles:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Movies with Penguins: Happy Feet Two

Happy Feet Two is the sequel to the 2006 Happy Feet movie.  This animated movie was released in US theaters on November 18, 2011 with 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D versions.  In this movie the main character of the first Happy Feet, Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), now has a son named Erik (voiced by Ava Acres).

Happy Feet Two opens with the Emperor Penguins all dancing, except Erik.  Erik is afraid to dance and when he finally does try for the first time he horribly embarrasses himself.  Erik ends up leaving Emperor-land and following Ramon (one of the Adelie penguins from the first movie) to Adelie-land.  Erik is joined by his friends Boadicia and Atticus.

They arrive in Adelie-land as a strange penguin named Sven (voiced by Hank Azaria) that can fly is about to tell his story.  Sven talks about being the last of his kind and being rescued by a Russian vessel, which also ends up rescuing Lovelace the Macaroni penguin who also appeared in Happy Feet Two.  Sven and Lovelace escape the ship after Sven thinks they are going to eat them.  They end up in Antarctica where Sven becomes revered like a god because he reveals lichen when he first lands on the continent.  Ramon accuses Sven of being a false god, but begins to believe when he tries Sven think to find a mate (Carmen).

Mumble follows after his son and friends when it is discovered they have left Emperor-land.  Erik thinks Sven can teach him to fly and does not want to return to Emperor-land, but goes with his dad after Sven tells him to.  On the way back to Emperor-land they have an encounter with an elephant seal named Bryan, who does not want to let them cross the ice bridge.  Bryan ends up falling in the ice crevasse and Mumble gets a leopard seal to follow him to help break ice and save Bryan.  Bryan thanks Mumble and says he owes him.

Mumble, Erik, Boadicia, and Atticus notice the terrain is different as they are returning to Emperor-land and when they get there discover that Emperor-land has been blocked by a giant iceberg.  The iceberg has trapped all the other Emperor penguins and they try to bring fish to keep them from starving while they try to find a way out.  They soon realize it is hopeless on their own and Boadicia goes to Adelie-land to bring help.

While Boadicia is gone, Erik breaks down and skuas attack.  The trapped Emperor penguins fight back and the skuas are scared off when the help from Adelie-land arrives.  The penguins (Chinstraps as well as Adelie penguins) with Sven as their leader begin sending fish down to the trapped Emperors with a bucket brigade style of passing fish.

The Russian vessel that Sven and Lovelace were on appears and Sven hides.  Lovelace on the other hand goes and gets the Russians to come help the Emperor Penguins.  The Russians begin to make a path up the iceberg for the penguins to get out, but abandon the effort when bad weather moves in.   When the storm clears it is realized the ocean has frozen over and the humans cannot return to help and the Adelies cannot go that far to bring food for the Emperors.  Erik tries to get Sven to teach the Emperors to fly, but Sven cannot and finally admits he is actually a puffin and not a penguin.

With hope lost again, Mumble realizes that if they all tap dance they make chunks of ice fall of the iceberg.  Mumble injures himself when he saves Erik from falling along with a large ice chunk and many Adelie penguins.  Sven then returns and leads the penguins in dancing, but they need more power.

Mumble and Erik go to Elephant Seal beach to get Bryan to return the favor.  At first Bryan will not come help because he is in the middle of trying to maintain his dominance.  After Erik sings an opera, Bryan is convinced to help and the Elephant Seals come to dance on the iceberg with the penguins.
Throughout the movie there is also a sort of side plot with two krill named Bill and WIll.  Will wants to see what is beyond the swarm and Bill ends up going with him.  In the end, though, they end up back in the swarm under the iceberg blocking Emperor-land.  They dance on the bottom of the ice as the penguins and elephant seals dance on top.

Working together the Elephant Seals, penguins, and sort of the krill break the iceberg up enough to make a path for the Emperor Penguins to escape and families to be reunited.

Related Links:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Whale Wars Fifth Season to Begin Airing in June 2012

This winter's Whale Wars is already underway with the Sea Shepherd's Operation Divine Wind campaign that is expected to continue through February 2012.  Yet, again their actions to prevent the Japanese from successfully hunting whales will be featured on Animal Planet with the fifth season of the Whale Wars show.  The show will begin airing in June 2012. The exact number of episodes has not been determined.

South Africa's New Icebreaker: Angulhas 2

South Africa's new icebreaker is almost finished in Finland.  The icebreaker is a research vessel with facilities for scientific work.  The icebreaker can break through 1 meter of ice.  Watch the video below to learn more about the Angulhas 2.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sparta crew waiting for rescue in Antarctica

The Sparta is a fishing vessel that is currently in the Antarctic waiting to be rescued.  The ship has taken on water due to a hole caused by an iceberg.  There have been several attempts by other ships to reach the Sparta, but the ice conditions have made it too difficult.  The crew did abandon ship to lifeboats at one point, but have returned and at least temporarily repaired the hole partially with help from supplies including a pump dropped off by at C130 Hercules from the Royal New Zealand Air Force.  A South Korean icebreaker, Aaron, has been commissioned to rescue the crew, but it could be a week before the ship gets to them.

Related Articles:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

100th Anniversary of First Expedition Reaching South Pole

Recently there has been a lot of news about preparing for next year being the 100th anniversary of Scott's expedition reaching the South Pole, but I think today deserves more attention in terms of Antarctic history.  Today is the 100th anniversary of Roald Amundsen and four others (Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel, Oscar Wisting) being the first humans to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911.

While Amundsen is criticized for just racing to the pole and not doing surveying or taking more than 2 photographs, he still did lead a much better planned expedition that allowed his men to safely reach the pole as well as return.  One of the reasons for his success is his use of sled dogs instead of how Scott attempted to use horses, which did not work out and ended up forcing him and his men to pull their supplies.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Is Meteorite Hunting in Antarctica a Wasteful Project?

The Antarctic Search for Meteorites (Ansmet) is beginning its 35th year of searching for and collecting meteorites in Antarctica.  The program is quite successful at finding meteorites, but what value does it have?  It was recently listed at #75 on a list of 100 most wasteful projects.  The report was made by two Senators (McCain and Coburn).  It does seem that the project has collected a lot of meteorites and that there certainly are more to find in Antarctica.  However, what is the value of finding the meteorites?  I am not saying they have no value, but I cannot really figure out the practical value the meteorite hunting has.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Final Frozen Planet episode won't air in US, but will be on DVD

The BBC documentary series Frozen Planet is about both the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions.  The series includes seven episodes, but the last episode called "On Thin Ice" will not be airing on the Discovery Channel in the US.  It is not because the episode is about climate change, but rather Discover Channel said it is not being aired due to them only scheduling six time slots for the series.  However, some of the footage from the last episode will be put into the six episode and all episode will be available when the series is released on DVD in the United States.

Frozen Planet has already started airing on the BBC in UK and the Nine Network in Australia.  It is scheduled to premiere in February 2012 on the Discovery Channel in the US.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Unique concerto incorporates video game in honoring 100th Anniversary of Terra Nova

The Terra Nova concerto involves an orchestra playing live and changing the music based on how the person playing it is doing.  For example, they change to the respawn theme if the player ends up falling off a cliff in the video game.  The video game is a virtual Antarctica game.  During the concerto the creator of the video game, Matt Hollis, will attempt to make it through 3 levels that are based on Captain Scott's Terra Nova expedition.  The Terra Nova concert honors the 100th anniversary of Captain Scott's Terra Nova expedition (1910-1912).

The Terra Nova concert is being performed at West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge, England beginning on Monday, November 14, 2011.  Learn more here.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Centenary of Captain Scott's Terra Nova Expedition Honored with Coin

The 100th anniversary (i.e. centenary) of Captain Scott's Terra Nova expedition end is coming up in 2012 (the 100th anniversary of beginning was back in 2010).  To honor the Centenary of Captain Scott's Terra Nova Expedition a Commemorative Coin has been issued by the Treasury of the British Overseas Territory of Antarctica.  This special coin is the third British Antarctic Territory commemorative coin.

The Terra Nova Expedition was somewhat of a failure in that the mission was to reach the South Pole first.  Scott and four men did successfully reach the South Pole on January 17, 1912.  Amundsen beat them by 33 days and none of the Terra Nova pole party survived the trek back from the South Pole.  However, the Terra Nova expedition is still one of the early British expeditions that helped form the tradition of British involvement in discovery and research that continues to this day in the Antarctic.

Learn more about the coins features and see images here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christie's Sale 3013: Lot 75 - Ernest Shackleton's The Antarctic Book Winter Quarters 1907-1909

One of the items in the Christie's Sale 3013 is an Ernest Shackleton book called The Antarctic Book Winter Quarters 1907-1909.  This is a 1909 book that is a supplement to the limited edition of The Heart of the Antarctic.  This book is part of a limited edition of 300 that were signed by all members of the expedition including Shackleton and Frank Wild.

Sale 3013 will take place on November 28, 2011.

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Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin Area Coming to Sea World Orlando in 2013

In 2013, Sea World plans to open a whole new Antarctica and penguin experience area called Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin Area.  This area is going to include a ride that is supposed to allow visitors to explore the world from a penguin's perspective.  The ride uses interactive ride technology so that it will be at least slightly different each time you ride it.  This new area is the largest expansion ever done by Sea World Orlando.

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Recreating Shackleton's Journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island

A group of six adventurers is working on the preparations to recreate the journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island.  Ernest Shackleton made it in 1917 in the James Caird lifeboat with five of his crew.  The Shackleton Epic Expedition will attempt to do the same using the same technology and supplies available to Shackleton and his men (although I am guessing along with some a modern ship following or something).  They are even have a replica of the James Caird built to use for the expedition.   The replica is named Alexandra Shackleton in honor of the patron of the expedition, who is also the closest living relative of Ernest Shackleton.  This is also in keeping with the tradition that the James Caird lifeboat was named after one of the patrons of the original Endurance expedition.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Partial Destruction of Christchurch landmark to save treasures including flag flown in Antarctica

It is kind of stretching to make an article about the controlled partial demolition of the Christchurch Cathedral to be related about Antarctica, but really really it is!!!  The cathedral was damaged in the earthquake back in February and the partial demolition is being done for safety reasons as well as to recover treasured historic items.  One of the historic items is a flag that was flown in Antarctica at Scott Base by Sir Edmund Hillary (yes, the guy better known for being the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest).

Read more about the demolition here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chile's efforts to lure cruise ships hurts Ushuaia

In recent years, Chile has really been pushing to be THE jumping off point for Antarctic cruises.  Still it seems that cruises were pretty evenly going from Punta Arenas in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina with Ushuaia still being the main port for Antarctic bound cruises.

Chile has been luring cruise ships with various incentives including reducing port fees if they stop in more than one Chilean port.  According to this article, Ushuaia is really beginning to feel the squeeze, as it tries to increase port fees and Chile becomes more appealing to cruise operators with the incentives and better infrastructure.

While it seems bad for Ushuaia, I think they will still are a key port for Antarctic cruises, but will they be able to continue to compete with Chile?  I would hope so, as I fondly remember it as a fun port to walk around and shop in before departing from the End of the World and Beginning of Everything (i.e. the motto of the city).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

M/V Polar Star fate unkown

The M/V Polar Star ran aground in Antarctica in Febuary 2011.  The ship was later deemed safe enough to return to Ushuaia with passengers, but the rest of the cruise season was canceled.  It turns out that the ship did not return to doing cruise in the north in May as expected and instead it remains in dry dock in the Canary Islands due to $1.6 million in unpaid repairs.  The company that owns the ship (Karlsen Shipping Co. Ltd.) ended up in receivership in May and the ship was seized.  Whether the ship will return to use in the Antarctic is unclear, although there are rumors G Adventures is considering purchasing it.

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Emergency Evacuation Controversary related to Stroke Victim at South Pole Base

A controversy has arisen related to whether a stroke victim should be/have been evacuated sooner from the South Pole Base.  Renee-Nicole Douceur is believed to have had a stroke (they cannot confirm with tech they have at base) on August 27, 2011, but was denied emergency evacuation until regular flights resume in mid-October.  It is pretty routine that an emergency evacuation just cannot happen until then due to weather.

However, in most cases when you hear about medical evacuations being necessary in Antarctica, there is a crew put on standby to go in if weather allows.  It sounds like it has not been the case this time, but at the same time the feasability of it being the South Pole versus more coastal parts of Antarctica makes a difference.

The evidence that she should be evacuated brings up Dr. Neilson who had breast cancer, yet does not bring up the fact that she still had to winter over there and wait before being evacuated, which is basically the same as in this situation. 

Sure, you do not want the person to get worse, but the harsh winter conditions do not seem to really warrant the risk of an emergency evacuation until the weather is appropriate, as otherwise more are at risk than just the patient.  Unfortunately, you cannot expect to get the same medical care if you choose to work in Antarctica as you would get back home in the states.

The facts about all this seem kind of messed up with one report calling it a heart attack and another calling it a stroke (this seems more likely, as it has quotes that describe it). 

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Whale Wars 2011-2012: Operation Divine Wind

The Sea Shepherd group will once again be trying its best to intervene with the Japanese whaling operation around Antarctica starting in December of this year.  Last year they helped to shorten the time the Japanese spent whaling and really limited the effectiveness of the program.  However, their tactics are not the most desirable, as they are willing to put their lives at risk and it really is becoming a true war.  It seems the Sea Shepherds are always portrayed as heros and the Japanese as villians, but it would be interesting to see more press that shows the Japanese side or less bias.

Personally, I think the Japanese might be stretching the meaning of the international laws regarding whaling, but at the same time the Sea Shepherd group is taking everything to the other extreme and being unlawful, too.  The Japanese are obviously at this point really trying to save face and the Sea Shepherds or some other intervening party could perhaps make negotiations that respected the Japanese traditions and allowed them to not be totally disgraced.  There are obviously cultural differences that seem to exacerbate this to a point of just ridiculousness by both parties.

What do you think about the Whale Wars?  I'd love to hear others opinions on it whether for one side or the other or even just neutral.

Related Articles:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stock Car Drives in Antarctica

Things get tested in the extreme cold of Antarctica all the time.  I found this article about a Stock Car "racing" in Antarctica interesting.  It was not actually racing, since it was just one stock car, but it sounds like the Argentines just did it because they could and not even a well promoted stunt, as they did not take advantage of testing and sponsorship potential.

Drawings from Scott's Expedition to go on public display for first time ever

Never before publicly displayed drawings from Scott's South Pole expedition will be on display at the Queen's Gallery as part of "The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography" exhibit.  The drawings include one of the black flag that Scott and his men 13 miles from the pole that signified to them that they had lost the race to the pole.  This exhibit will be on display from October 21, 2011 through April 15, 2012.

The exhibit includes images from Scott's 1912 expedition and Shackleton's Endurance expedition.  Both expeditions are known as heroic examples of British exploration in the Antarctica with Scott reaching the South Pole days after Amundsen was the first and dying on the return from the pole and Shackleton successfully getting his whole crew out of the Antarctic after their ship became stuck in the ice and it sunk.

Read more about this here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Antarctica Related items in Christie's Sale 2362: Travel, Science and Natural History

Christie's Sale 2362: Travel, Science and Natural History includes several Antarctica related items.  Below is more info on the Antarctica related items included in Sale 2362.  These items will be auctioned off on September 29, 2011.  Learn more about the sale and included items on Christie's site here.

Lot 136 Edward Adrian Wilson (1872-1912): Mt. Erebus Aug. 31 1903 - This lot includes a 1903 drawing of Antarctica's Mt. Erebus volcano.  It also includes 6 collotypes of Antarctic subjects. Estimate: £500 - £800

Lot 137 Robert Falcon Scott: Manuscript Record of Bank Account with Messrs. Woodhead & Co., 31 Dec. 1894-31 Dec. 1902 - This is an interesting piece of history related to the fated Antarctic explorer, Robert F. Scott (he died on the way back from South Pole after Amundsen beat him to be first).  These bank records show his early career transactions and how he supported himself and his mother after his father died in 1897. Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500

Lot 138 The first and second Antarctic Relief Expeditions (1902-1904): Captain William Colbeck's Scrap Album - This lot includes photographs, vintage prints, and letters related to the collection. Estimate: £3,000 - £5,000

Lot 139 British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904: 42 contact prints - This lot is mostly prints done by Reginald Skelton.  The subjects include Discovery in Winter Quarters at Ross Island, Mount Erebus and the scenery around Hut Point, sledging scenes and camps on the Barrier, and the return of the Southern Party. Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

Lot 140 Robert Falcon Scott: Two autograph letters signed to Lord Knowles, Admiralty, London, 13 and 28 March 1906 - These are letters written about accepting award and about the King's private permission to wear them. Estimate: £800 - £1,200

Lot 141 Arthur Edward Harbord(1883-1961): 'The voyage of the "Nimrod" to the Antarctic, and return. British Antarctic Expedition 1907', typed transcripts of his journals - This lot includes journals and photos.  Estimate: £10,000 - £15,000

Lot 142 Eric Marshall (1879-1963): 'Personal Diary. British Antarctic Expedition. 1907 - 1909', a typed transcript, undated (?1920s), with occasional manuscript corrections, 'Epilogue' signed by Marshall and notes on 'Shackleton's Record' - Estimate: £700 - £1,000

Lot 146 Ernest Henry Shackleton (1847-1922): The Heart of the Antarctic. Being the story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909. London: William Heinemann, 1909. 2 volumes - Unique copy, includes signed double-leaf from The Antarctic Book with all 16 signatures of shore party.  Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000

Lot 147 Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922): Autograph letter signed ('Ernest H. Shackleton') to 'My dear Sutton', London, 10 March n.y., referring to a photograph, a book which has not been 'taken up', and some American addresses - Estimate: £400 - £600

Lot 148 Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922): Autograph letter signed ('E.H. Shackleton') to Gerald Christy (the lecture agent), London, 11 August 1910, instructing him to direct lecture fees to Press & Press, solicitors, in Bristol, from 1 October forwards - Estimate: £500 - £800

Lot 149  Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922): Portrait photograph signed ('E.H. Shackleton'), the photograph by Dinham, Torquay, on a postcard, addressed in autograph to Miss Barnardo in Dublin, no postmark - Estimate: £600 - £900

Lot 150 A.W. Sarjeant (photographer): 'S/S Terra Nova Leaving Cardiff for the South Pole' [15 June 1910]; '"Terra Nova" Arriving at Cardiff from South Antarctic Expedition Captained by Commander Evans' [June 14, 1913] - This lot includes photographs of the ship leaving and returning from Antarctic expedition.  Estimate: £2,000 - £3,000

Lot 151 Herbert George Ponting (1871-1935): The Terra Nova at the Icefoot, Cape Evans -  Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500

Lot 152 Herbert George Ponting (1871-1935): The 'Terra Nova' in McMurdo Sound - Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500

Lot 153 British Antarctic Expedition, 1910: Signatures of Robert Falcon Scott, Edward A. Wilson, Lawrence Oates, Henry Robertson Bowers, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Edward R.G.R. Evans, E.L. Atkinson, Victor Campbell, G. Murray Levick, Edgar W. Riley, Tryggve Gran, D.G. Lillie, Francis Drake, Henry Rennick and E.W. Nelson - Estimate: £500 - £800

Lot 154 Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912): Autograph letter signed ('R. Scott') to Sir Richard Poore - Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500

Lot 156 Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912): Testimonials and memorials, 1906-1913, four printed documents with manuscript insertions and one document entirely in manuscript - Estimate: £500 - £700

Lot 157 Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912): Scott's pocket diary for 1910 - Estimate: £6,000 - £10,000

Lot 158 British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 Scott's Antarctic Expedition, 1911-2.: On the way to the Pole.; Scott. Wilson. Bowers. Amundsen's Tent.; Oates. Scott. Evans. Bowers Wilson.; Wilson. Evans. Scott. Oates. Bowers.; and Ice Cairn over bodies of Scott - Estimate:  £6,000 - £8,000

Lot 159 George Murray Levick (1876-1956): Adelie penguins - Estimate: £700 - £1,000

Lot 160 Robert Falcon Scott: A vellum leaf (visible area: 39 x 24.7cm.)with the address from the 'CITY OF MANCHESTER TO CAPTAIN ROBERT F.SCOTT, R.N., C.V.O., F.R.G.S. BRITISH ANTARTIC [sic] EXPEDITION1910', dated '28th April 1910' and signed by the Lord Mayor of Manchester - Estimate:  £2,000 - £3,000

Lot 161 Roald Amundsen (1872-1928). Autograph endorsement signed ('Please pay Roald Amundsen') and redirection to 'Mr Gerald Christy' (the lecture agent) on a bill from Sandilands & Sons, London (tailors) - Estimate: £300 - £500

Lot 162  Walter E. How (c.1885-1972)Sir E. Shackleton's "Endurance"; and Captn Scott's "Discovery" - These are watercolors.  Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500

Lot 163 After Francis James (Frank) Hurley, Herbert George Ponting and others: Slides of the scenes from Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1916, and Scott's British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 - Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000

Lot 164 Frank Hurley (1885-1962): Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) -  Estimate: £2,000 - £3,000

Lot 165 Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922): Autograph letter signed ('Ernest Shackleton') to Alfred, 1st Viscount Northcliffe, Marlborough Club, London, 28 December 1913 - Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500

Lot 171 [DE WIT, Frederick (1630-1706).] Polus Antarcticus. [Amsterdam: c.1680.] Engraved map, surrounding vignettes partially hand-coloured, no text to verso. - This is a map of the Antarctic region before the continent was actually known to exist for sure.  Estimate: £700 - £1,000

Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy Feet Transmitter Connection Lost

Just two weeks after the release of the emperor penguin nicknamed Happy Feet was released in the Southern Ocean to return to Antarctica on its own, the transmitter connection has been lost.  The connection loss is very likely due to the transmitter falling off.  They had thought it would allow them to track the penguin for four to six months, but it has fallen far short of that expectation.  However, it is not too surprising as the transmitter was only glued on in order to try not to be too invasive.  It was only expected to stay on until molting season.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Rugby World Cup to be Broadcasted at Scott Base

For the first time ever, the Rugby World Cup will be beamed to be shown live in Antarctica.  All 48 matches of the Cup will be streamed live to New Zealand's Scott Base, so those wintering over there and possible those from the nearby McMurdo Base can enjoy all the action of the Rugby World Cup.

Learn more about this here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Happy Feet" leaving Zoo Sunday

The Emperor Penguin that was found in New Zealand earlier this year will soon be leaving the Zoo to begin its journey to freedom.  The penguin has become nicknamed Happy Feet after the popular cartoon movie that has a sequel coming out soon.  On Sunday, August 28, 2011, Happy Feet will be transported to the NIWA research vessel Tangaroa. The vessel is headed towards Antarctica and will release Happy Feet just east of the Auckland Islands.  A special tracking device is on Happy Feet that will allow his location to be known at least until next April when he molts.

Learn more about this here.

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NSF signs contract to use Russian icebreaker to resupply and refuel Antarctic Bases

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has reached an agreement to use the Russian Icebreaker Vladimir Ignatyuk.  The icebreaker will be used for the major annual resupply and refuel mission that provides the main supplies that McMurdo needs to operate at its current capacity throughout the year.  The icebreaker will be used to lead the ships that resupply and refuel the base through the ice.

Previously, the NSF used a Swedish icebreaker, but recently the Swedish government decided it needed to keep the icebreaker up north.  The NSF and Murmansk Shipping Company have signed a multi-year contract to use the Vladimir Ignatyuk at least until the U.S. Coast Guard Polar Star is done with its major relift in 2014.

Learn more about this here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Special Antarctic Cruise to Fulfill Frank Wild's Last Request

This winter there will be an extra special Antarctic tourist cruise among the tourist cruise offerings.  This cruise is through One Oceans Expeditions and involves fulfilling Frank Wild's last request, which was to be buried next to Ernest Shackleton.  Shackleton is buried in a whaler's graveyard in the South Georgia islands.

The cruise is special in that it involves taking the ashes to their final resting place while also attempting to visit the famed Elephant Island where the crew of the Endurance were eventually rescued from.  Also, descendents of Frank Wild as well as Shackleton's granddaughter, Andrea Shackleton, will be on the cruise.   It also includes the regular Antarctic peninsula type destinations.

Frank Wild took part in 4 different Antarctic expeditions including being part of Scott's 1901 expedition with Shackleton and part of Shackleton's Nimrod and Endurance expeditions.  He was the second in command for the Endurance expedition and left in charge on Elephant Island when Shackleton left in the lifeboat to get help.  Wild was also second in command on the Quest expedition in which Shackleton died leaving Wild to lead the expedition.

Related Links:

What do Texas and Antarctica have in common?

Texas and Antarctica seem like polar opposites with Texas known for its heat and Antarctica known for its cold.  The obvious answer to what Texas and Antarctica have in common is probably that they both have deserts.  However, new research shows that 1.1 billion years ago the areas that are now Texas and Antarctica had a whole lot in common, as they were connected.

Learning about the supercontinent Pangea is a regular part of grade school science class.  However, the continents have moved around and have been connected in different ways over the Earth's history.  Some of the most recent research shows that one of the past connections involved Texas and part of Antarctica being next to each other.  Evidence that links the two based on rocks with the same lead isotopes composition in the Franklin Mountains of Texas and the Coat Lands of Antarctica.  These rocks are part of the evidence to prove the theory that North America and East Antarctica were once connected as one supercontinent called Rodinia.

Learn more about this topic here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Penguin Book Review: 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental is a funny picture book about a family getting a penguin in the mail every day.  In the end it is revealed their uncle mailed them to them as a way of smuggling them out of Antarctica.  Of course, it is an illegal thing to do, but the book addresses that and has a message of climate change and protecting the natural environment.

Overall a great book for all ages.  The big size also makes it great for group storytimes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Satellite Imaging shows Tohoku Tsunami caused iceberg calving in Antarctica

The Tohoku Tsunami that is known for the damage it caused in Japan in March 2011 has been found to also caused iceberg calving in Antarctica.  Satellite imaging was used to follow the progress of the tsunami waves all the way down to Antarctica where the consistency of the 1 foot waves was still enough to cause icebergs to break off the Sulzberger shelf.  Often there are calving events and then scientists try to figure out the cause, but for the first time they were able to prove that tsunami waves are one cause of iceberg calving.

Learn more about this news here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Discoverer of Antarctica's Lake Vostok dies

On August 3, 2011 the Russian man that discovered Antarctica's Lake Vostok died.  Andrey Kapitsa was a Russian geographer and is among the scientists credited with discovering Lake Vostok using seismic soundings.  Lake Vostok is the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica.  Andrey Kapitsa also participated in 4 Soviet expeditions to the South Pole.

Related Links

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Part of Old South Pole Base on Display at New Seabee Museum

The new US Navy Seabee Museum has it's grand opening ceremony tomorrow, July 22, 2011. The new museum has an Antarctic exhibit that I really hope to see someday. The exhibit has pieces of the South Pole Geodesic dome base mounted above so you can look up and see it similar to how the base was at the South Pole until the latest South Pole base was completed. The pieces were dismantled in 2009 and brought to the museum in 2010. The Antarctic exhibit also has a subzero polar suit and the control panel from the South Pole base.

Related Links:

  • US Navy Seabee Museum Website

  • Saturday, July 9, 2011

    McVite's Penguin Biscuits Donate £100,000 to WWF

    The UK based McVite's Biscuits has supported WWF in the past and continues their partnership this year with another £100,000 donation from their McVite's Penguin brand of biscuits.  The money goes to helping WWF's various conservation efforts with the main focus of the donation being to support WWF's efforts to protect Antarctic penguins.  The funds will help develop and protect feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean.  It will also be used for continued research on climate change and the effect on Antarctic penguin colonies.

    McVite's Penguin biscuits are milk chocolate covered biscuits with chocolate cream.  Check out their website for some penguin activities and to learn more about penguins.

    Whale Wars Reunion Episode to Air August 12, 2011

    Animal Planet will air a special Reunion Episode of Whale Wars featuring Lisa Ling interviewing Captain Paul Watson and his crew.  This is sort of a wrap of up of Whale Wars with the very real possibility that the so called war has been won and it will be their final season of their activities in Antarctica with it seeming that the Japanese will stop their whale hunts.

    Learn more about the series (now in its 4th season) here.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    New research shows Antarctic krill fertilizes ocean

    I just read an interesting article about krill.  Yes, I such small creatures can actually sometimes be fascinating.  The article talks about how Antarctic krill fertilize the Southern Ocean with iron.  I knew krill were a key part of the food chain in Antarctica, as penguins and such eat them, but there role in the ecosystem is much more involved.

    The new study shows that krill feed on decaying organisms on the sea floor and then release iron into the ocean as they return to the surface.  This is new information in that krill were once thought to mainly stay on the surface, but the new study shows they regularly go down and feed on the sea floor.  It also shows that krill play a role in improving the ocean's ability to store carbon dioxide and thus are part of the Southern Ocean's natural carbon cycle.

    Further Info: "Antarctic krill help to fertilize Southern Ocean with iron"

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    New Study on Antarctica's Last Vegetation

    A new study shows that the last vegetation disappeared from Antarctica approximately 12 million years ago. The study uses pollen fossils found deep in the seafloor. To get the fossils they drilled through 100 feet of the dense sedimentary rock on the seafloor off Antarctica.

    The last vegetation in Antarctica was when there was a tundra environment along the northern peninsula of Antarctica. The peninsula was the last part to be covered with ice and the limited amount of tundra environment probably entirely disappeared about 12.8 million years ago.

    The new study does show some interesting insight into the climate past of Antarctica, but I am confused about it saying the last vegetation was 12 million years ago. What about lichen? There is still that on the Antarctic peninsula and I was always under the impression that counted as vegetation, but I guess not.

    Read more about this topic:
    When Antarctica's Vegetation Vanished: Pollen Reveals Glacial History
    Why so cold? The Last Refuge of Antarctica's Forests

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Penguin Nicknamed Happy Feet Cannot be Returned to Antarctica

    Over the past few days there has been a lot of news about an Emperor Penguin that was found in New Zealand and has undergone surgery at the Wellington Zoo. The penguin has been given the nickname Happy Feet due to him being the same species as the main character of that movie. Happy Feet is on the mend, but there still remains the debate on what to do with him when he has fully recovered.

    Regularly injured animals are nursed back to health and released back in their native habitat, but the unique Antarctica environment leads to different issues. Mainly, the Antarctic Treaty prohibits bringing live birds to Antarctica and that includes the native Emperor Penguin. This is to protect the native animals, as he could bring in diseases that could be devastating to the penguin colony. Another problem is even if he does get the special permit to return, they might not return him to his actual colony since there is no way to know where he came from.

    So, what do they do? Well, that is still to be determined, but the most likely option seems to be releasing him from southern New Zealand allowing him to perhaps return as he came from Antarctica.

    Read more about this here.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Casting Penguins for Mr. Popper's Penguins

    I found this article about casting the penguins for Mr. Popper's Penguins an interesting read.  The article talks about selecting what species to use, how the penguins were housed during the shooting, and training them.  Makes me even more interested in seeing the movie, but first I want to get around to reading the book.  Since I have so many books in my to read pile and do not even own Mr. Popper's Penguins, yet, I probably will not be seeing this movie until it is on DVD.

    Those that have read the book or do not care to read it before seeing the movie, can enjoy it in theaters beginning June 17, 2011.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Scott's Last Expedition Museum Exhibit to travel to three participating museums

    This summer the Scott's Last Expedition exhibit opens in Syndey, Australia, at the Australian National Maritime Museum.  This exhibit brings together various artifacts from Scott's 1910-1913 Terra Nova Expedition in which he died on his way back from the South Pole.  The exhibit opens in Australia at June 17,  2011.

    The exhibit will travel on to the two other participating museums with it opening in January 2012 at the Natural History Museum in London and in November 2012 at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand.

    Read more about this exhibit here.

    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    Happy Feet Two Comes to Theaters November 18, 2011

    The sequel to Happy Feet is about Mumble's son, who does not want to dance.  The trailer does not make it seem all that interesting, as there is not much to it, but it actually makes me totally uninterested because it some rap hip hop thing and I do not like that kind of music.  However, the graphics look nice and it is going to be in 3D, so that sounds kind of cool.  Plus, its still penguins and set in Antarctica.

    The end of the trailer is also kind of disturbing with the little penguin looking like he is being hung and then the seal kind of eating him to pull him back up.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Chile Plans to Add Museum to Arturo Prat Base

    Chile is planning to add a museum with exhibits relating to Chilean Antarctic explorers/pioneers to its Arturo Prat base.  The museum is partly to remember the explorer's achievements, but it is also meant to draw tourism.  All those that fear they are majorly trying to ruin Antarctica and draw massive tourism, there is not much to fear, as they only hope to draw 500 people a year.

    One of the things the museum will highlight is the Chilean Luis Prado's involvement in the rescue of Shackleton's men from Elephant Island in 1916.  Additionally, the museum will highlight the founding of Chile's first Antarctic base in 1947.

    The museum is expected to be finished within the next two years, so visitors should be able to start enjoying it by end of 2013.

    Read more about the plans here.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Book Review: Magic Tree House Research Guide Penguins and Antarctica

    The Magic Tree House Research Guide: Penguins and Antarctica is a nonfiction companion to the fiction book Eve of the Emperor Penguin.  This is a great chapter book for kids to learn about penguins and Antarctica, especially if they are fan of the Magic Tree House series.

    The book has chapters on penguins, Antarctica explorers, other Antarctic animals, and modern day Antarctica.  It also has some recommendations for doing more further research.

    Antarctic Book Review: Eve of the Emperor Penguin by Mary Pope Osborne

    Eve of the Emperor Penguin by Mary Pope Osborne is part of the Magic Tree House series of chapter books for children.  It is set in modern times and the kids magically end up in Antarctica to help find something to cheer up Merlin.  It does have some unrealistic magic stuff, but that is what the books are about.  At the same time, though, it has some very realistic Antarctic experience information, such as the danger of ice cracks and the volcano Mount Erebus.

    Overall this is a decent book.  It is rather simple, but it is does give a decent look at how current research works in Antarctica.  Definitely a good book for those that are already fans of the series.  It is somewhat educational on its own, but match it with the Magic Tree House Research Guide on Penguins and Antarctica for a good brief introduction to the continent and penguins for kids.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Electric Vehicles Being Tested in Antarctica

    Currently, two electric vehicles are being tested in Antarctica to see how effective they are and if they could replace some of the diesel trucks used in Antarctica.  The electric vehicles being used are E-ride EXV2s.  One is owned by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy) and one is owned by Raytheon Polar Services.  These vehicles hold two passengers and have a truck bed.  They can go up to 25 MPH and uses lead based batteries.  The vehicles uses battery warming devices, although the harsh Antarctic conditions still limit what the vehicle can do.

    It would certainly be a good thing if they can make electric vehicles work in Antarctica and replace at least some of the diesel vehicles.  However, at the same time it is good that they are doing research and not just jumping the gun in an effort to appear more green, as it is possible the energy consumption could be equal or more to the diesel vehicles if the electric vehicles need to use a lot of energy to work in the harsh cold.

    Further Reading on this topic here.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Puerto Williams Striving to be Chile's Ushuaia Equivalent

    Puerto Williams is located in Chile, but is only about 25 miles from Ushuiaia in Argentina is located.  Ushuaia is the main port that Antarctica tourist cruises leave from.  Puerto Williams plans to expand their port to accommodate the cruise liners.  Further down the road they also plan to expand the local airport.  While they just got some Chilean government money to improve their tourism industry, it appears it will still be a while before they even have the facilities to even try to compete with Ushuaia.

    On one hand competition can be good for getting quality tourist experiences, but on the other hand this is sort of attempting to expand the Antarctic tourist industry, which overall is not good for the continent.  Sure, the lack of competition might lead to increasingly expensive Antarctic tourism/cruises, but this is the type of tourism industry that I feel needs to be that way to protect the natural environment of Antarctica for others to enjoy it as it is for as long as possible.

    Related News Article:

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Raytheon Science Support of NSF Research Awarded New Contract

    I am very familiar with Raytheon being the employer/provider of the support staff for NSF run bases/camps in Antarctica, although I did not realize it has been only since 2000.  However, at the same time I have much longer known them for what most people think of them as, which is a defense contract company.  I always think it is funny that a company that builds and sells things like missiles is the same company that handles the support staff for scientific research research in Antarctica, where military activity is banned (military personnel and equipment can be used to scientific research or other peaceful purposes).

    The new contract is a $157 million one that extends Raytheon Polar Services support staff role through March 31, 2012.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Whisky Recovered from Antarctica Replicated

    Earlier this year McKinlay and Co whisky was removed from the ice at one of the camps Shackleton left behind from his 1909 Nimrod Antarctic Expedition.  The company ( Whyte & Mackay distillery) that now owns McKinlay and Co whisky has studied the only whisky formulation and successfully replicated its unique flavor.

    The Scotland Whyte & Mackay distillery will be selling 50,000 bottles of the replication.  The bottles are priced at £100 and 5% of each sale will go to the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

    Related Posts:

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Historic Admiral Richard Byrd 2nd Antarctic Expedition Rediscovered

    Back in January, a team of researchers rediscovered one of the depots used by American Admiral Richard Byrd and his other expedition members on his 2nd Antarctic Expedition between 1933 and 1935. At the depot they found three crampons and a set of wooden expandable survey poles. Two of the crampons belonged to Quin A Blackburn and one belonged to Richard Russell. The poles had the name Cox on them. The straps of the crampons had disintegrated, but they were otherwise in good condition including no rust on the buckle since it is a dry windblown area (Antarctica is a desert afterall!).

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Video Game with Penguins: 3DS AR Game - Graffiti

    I got my Nintendo 3DS yesterday, but did not try the AR Games until today. When I first started the Graffiti (drawing) game, the first thing I drew was a penguin. Mine came out okay, but what is really cool is that one of the few stamp options is a realistic little penguin. I had some fun making some pics using it including one with penguins on an iceberg. As a penguin lover I had a lot of fun with Graffiti partially just because I could stamp penguins.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Mars Space Suit Tested in Antarctica

    Recently, a space suit prototype that may eventually be used for a manned mission to Mars by NASA was studied in the harsh, windy conditions of Antarctica. The average temperature on Mars is -200 degrees Farenheit, which is not colder than Antarctica, but the 47 mile per hour winds do help create similar cold conditions or at least as cold as you can get in a natural Earth setting. The suit was tested while users did various activities similar to what they would do on Mars.

    It is not the first time Antarctica has been used as a Mars-like habitat for space study reasons. Back in 2007, an Inflatable Habitat was tested at McMurdo for potential use on the moon and Mars. The dry valleys of Antarctica have also been studied as an Earth equivalent to the dry valleys on Mars.

    Antarctica Themed Painting in Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tommorrow Art Exhibit

    Earlier this week at the Smithsonian American Art Museum I happened upon a cool Antarctica themed painting in the Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow exhibit of paintings. The paintings are mostly fantasy or future nature themed. The Antarctic themed "South" painting is a several panel one that is among the biggest in the exhibit. It mainly features icebergs.

    The exhibit will remain on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (same building as the National Portrait Gallery) until May 8, 2011. It will also be on display at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio September 24, 2011 through January 1, 2012.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Yacht Goes Missing off Antarctica

    Yet, another ship distress signal this season in Antarctica has occurred. This time it is a private chartered yacht. The yacht recently dropped off two passengers on the continent for a South Pole expedition. Yesterday, the yacht sent out a distress signal, but when the closest ship reached the point the distress signal had ceased operating and the yacht was no where to be found. A few other ships in the area have joined the search and an airplane will likely help with the search when the weather clears.

    More on this here.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Google UK Doodle features Ernest Shackleton Today

    I usually do not check out Google Doodles, but I just had to when I saw something about Ernest Shackleton having one today in my Google News alerts. Was confused to notice it was not on my google homepage (US), but it totally makes more sense the it is the homepage that has it.

    Ernest Shackleton was born on February 15, 1874, so today it honor his 137th birthday. The doodle represents his famous Endurance expedition.

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    London Zoo's Bigger Penguin Pool Opening in May 2011

    The London Zoo is opening a bigger Penguin Beach pool area for the penguins that live at their zoo. There have been penguins as part of the London Zoo for over 150 years. The new habitat is expected to open on May 27, 2011. The new area is four times bigger and three times deeper than their current exhibit area.

    The most interesting addition in my opinion is that the new exhibit will also include a replica field station. This part of the exhibit will be about current penguin research that is taking place in Antarctica.

    Read more about this here.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Polar Star Cancels Rest of 2010/2011 Season Cruises

    Last week I posted about the Polar Star hitting a rock and then later being evacuated for repairs. Yesterday after divers and shipping experts had examined the damage it was decided that the rest of the cruises for this season will be canceled in order or the ship to be repaired in dry dock. The ship is expected to resume its cruise schedule with the northern season of cruises in May.

    Read more about this here.

    Previous Related Posts:
    Polar Star Antarctic Cruise Ship Runs Aground
    Polar Star Evacuated After Inspection

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Robotics Solution Considered for Supplying South Pole Base

    The past few years the South Pole Antarctic base has gotten most of its supplies via a tractor caravan that travels from McMurdo Base to the Amundsen-Scott Base. The five vehicle caravan is manned by 10 people and takes about a month to get to the South Pole as it travels 12 hours a day at 5 MPH. The robotic idea is to most use robots and a team of only 2 to rotate 12 hour shifts to keep the caravan moving 24 hours a day to make the trip faster and more efficient.

    Personally it seems a team of 2 splitting shifts is not exactly ideal either. I would think it would make more sense to have two teams of two if they are going to constantly have the caravan going, as otherwise each person would be spending most if not all their shift alone as the other person sleeps. Just seems it would be more efficient or they would have to seriously seek out the exact right two people even more particular than making their team of 10 work effectively together.

    Read more about this here.

    Lake Vostok's Secrets Remain Unreached This Antarctic Summer

    This year the Russians were hoping to finally reach the subglacial Lake Vostok. It remains liquid under 3,750 meters of ice due to geothermal heat. The lake is thought to potentially possess prehistoric or unknown life. The Russians had to stop about 5 meters from the drilling finally reaching the lake, since they had to leave Antarctica by February 6 before the onset of winter.

    Read more about this here.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Polar Star Evacuated After Inspection

    Yesterday I posted about the Polar Star having a hull breach and stopping to be inspected at Arctowski Station before returning to Ushuaia. The ship has now been inspected by divers and it was decided that the passengers would be evacuated and returned to Ushuaia via other Antarctic tourist ships coming through the area. The crew will stay with the ship and return with the ship to Ushuaia after some temporary repairs are done. The delay has made them cancel the Polar Star cruise scheduled to depart Ushuaia on Feb 6.

    Read more about this here.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Antarctic Ice Core Sets New US Record

    The longest ice core ever drilled by United States scientists was recently recovered. The ice core is the second longest ever drilled measuring 10,928 feet. The ice core was drilled over a course of 5 years from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The previous US record was an ice core from Greenland. The longest ever ice core was 12,142 feet and was drilled by Russians in the 1990s by scientists at the Antarctic Vostok station.

    The new ice core contains over 100,000 years of climate history. The past 40,000 years of climate date is especially good quality in this ice core, which is being referred to as the WAIS Divide core.

    Read more about this here.

    Polar Star Antarctic Cruise Ship Runs Aground

    Another cruise ship accident has occurred this season, although it sounds like this one is rather minor. On February 1, 2011, the Polar Star Antarctic cruise ship hit a rock in the Detaille area while anchoring causing a hull breach. The ship was on its way back to Argentina from Antarctica. The ship was not evacuated as some news reports have said, but rather the ship continued to sail on the Antarctic Peninsula before stopping at Arctowski Station to have it inspected before returning to Ushuaia.

    The Polar Star is the ship I went to Antarctica on (photo in this post is one I took). On my 2004 expedition we were on the other side of an incident in that we ended up going to rescue the Vavilov from pack ice since the Polar Star is an icebreaker and we were in the area. There was some damage to the Polar Star when the tow line broke and the ships collided, but totally part of the adventure of the Antarctic and a cool experience despite losing a day of potential landings. Of course, it is not as fun when the Antarctic harshness turns more serious as does regularly still happens.

    Read more about this here.

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    Cape Denison's 1st Season with a Post Office

    The 2010-2011 Mawson hut restoration season at Cape Denison was the first one where they operated a post office. Appears the main reason for doing it was that it has become a tourist stop recently, as it is quite a historic site in the Antarctic. Even running a post office in a remote Antarctic location is challenging, as they do not have central heat like the more permanent bases. Since it is not heated they had trouble with the postmark ink sticking in the cold temperatures. Certainly, not something I ever thought about being a problem.

    This article mentions that the first season of the Post Office postal cachets will be available on the Mawson's Huts Foundation website. The link to the Foundations online shop is here, but they are currently not available. I will try to remember to update when they do become available, as I know a lot of my readers are wonder about obtaining Antarctic Postcards and postmarks.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    New UK Antarctic Base to Be Greener with Heat Exchangers

    The new Halley VI UK Antarctic base is currently under construction. It will use a heat exchanger to supply the base with energy. By using it to reclaim heat, it will be able to improve the base's energy efficiency by over 90%. Thus it will make the base greener by not just reusing resources, but by making the fuel used in the base go farther. This is especially important considering that the base is UK's most remote Antarctic base.

    Read more on this here.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Chris Foot's fails in solo expedition to South Pole

    Back in November I wrote about Chris Foot attempting an historic solo expedition to the South Pole. He did successfully make it to the South Pole unassisted, however, he called the return off due to being delayed by 16 days flying to Antarctica and the weather pattern approaching not being ideal for attempting to return unassisted this year. He plans to try again later this year when summer comes back around in the Antarctic.

    Read more about this here.

    Banding Penguins Hurts Penguins According to King Penguin Study

    Banding has been a common way to carry out long term research on animals, such as penguins. A ten year study of banded and non-banded King Penguins recently revealed that the banding may be harming the penguins. The study included penguins that were banded as well as penguins tracked with under the skin technology. The penguins that were banded had a lower survival rate after 10 years as well as produced fewer chicks than the non-banded King Penguins. It seems the penguins that are banded are affected by drag when they are swimming and end up aging physically faster than normal due to increased effort it takes to swim with the metal band on their flipper.

    While it seems the bands affect the King Penguins, similar studies show that the bands are not as much an issue for other species, such as Magellenic penguins. Thus the study is not exactly a definitive that bands should not be used for studies. However, it does mean that some studies need to make sure they are not skewing the data to only climate change causes when the penguins in the studies are actually being slightly affected by the bands. Overall, though, it seems that using the under the skin tags are a much better choice and safer for the animals.

    More on this here.

    India to Open its 3rd Antarctic Station in 2012

    India will open its third Antarctic research station in 2012. The base is located in the Lasemann Hills part of East Antarctica and has been worked on since 2008 according to this article, but I remember posting about construction beginning in January 2010, so perhaps the 2008 refers to them selecting the location. This week they announced it is 60 percent done and is expected to be operational in 2012. The new station is expected to house 35 (25 scientists and 10 logistics/support personnel). One feature of the new station is an Earth Station that will transmit data back to scientists in India within 45 minutes instead of it taking two to three days currently.

    Read more about this here.

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Mawson Plane Will Remain in Antarctica Another Year

    Last January the first plane brought to Antarctica was rediscovered. You can read about that in this post I made about the news last year. They expected to bring back the plane from Antarctica this year, but the helicopter crash in October 2010 caused an interruption in their work this Antarctic summer season and they will have to wait until next year to bring back the plane. The focus this year is just on restoring Mawson's transit hut and the main hut. If they have time, they will still try to dig the plane out, but it is likely to have to wait until next year. After all what's another year when its been there nearly 100 years already.

    Read more about this news here.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Antarctic Runway Closed Due to Heat

    I found this article about an Antarctic runway being closed interesting because most of the time I end up reading about runways and airplanes turning back from the Antarctic because of cold temperatures. This season, though, the Wilkins Runway at Australia's Casey Station has been closed due to warm temperatures. The runway is made out of ice, so the warm temperatures make it structurally unstable. Global Warming or climate change perhaps, but perhaps just an unusually warm summer in the Antarctic or at least in the region where Casey Station is located.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Mechanical Issues Cause an Antarctic Cruise to be Canceled

    Abercombie & Kent has canceled a full booked cruise to Antarctica from Ushuaia due to a mechanical problem needing to be fixed. It seems that the problem could have been an easy fix to do while the cruise was going on, except the parts and such are not readily available in this region and extra precautions are being taken to fix it before sailing since the Antarctic can be a harsh place for cruise liners. Stinks for those that were expecting to go to Antarctica, but at least the company refunded the full cost of the cruise as well as reimbursed the passengers for their airfare and airfare cancellation charges.

    Read more about this here.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Video Game with Penguins: Polar Bowler

    I like finding video games that feature penguins as characters, but sometimes it annoys me. I like bowling, so I rented Polar Bowler for the Nintendo DS just as a bowling game to try out. The bowling was fun, although not exactly realistic. The annoying part is that it is clearly supposed to just be a North Pole themed game and yet it has a penguin as an unlockable character.

    In case you do not know, mixing polar bears and penguins in an unnatural way is one of my big pet peeves. I know it would seem okay for a video game of totally fiction to do it, but I am pretty picky on it being tastefully done and this being a North Pole theme does not cut it being allowable to have a polar bear and penguin character in the same game. It is not like Madagascar that has various animals including penguins together because they are from a zoo.

    Whale Wars 2011 Has Started

    Thought I would read Whale Wars articles before today, but today is the first time this season that there has been news. The Sea Shepherd activists have located the Japanese whalers. The first clash included the whalers shooting water cannons at the activists in zodiacs.

    Read this article for more info.