Origins ANTARCTICA, Scientific Journeys from McMurdo to the Pole
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Preparing for Antarctica
The Exploratorium Antarctica Team
Exploratorium adventurers Paul Doherty, Mary Miller, Julie Konop, and Noel Wanner.  

There’s a lot of really interesting science going on at McMurdo Station, America’s home base in Antarctica—and fascinating people who work there, too. But you can’t just drop by for a visit.

In such a harsh and unforgiving landscape, it takes a concerted effort to keep conditions safe and comfortable for the people who live and work there. In practical terms, that means everyone who goes to McMurdo needs to be in good health, with proper food, clothing, shelter, and transportation, and have some training in survival tactics in case something goes wrong.

Over the past year, the four members of our team—Mary, Julie, Noel, and Paul—have been getting ready for their Antarctic adventure. Following precise instructions from the National Science Foundation and Raytheon Polar Services, they’ve been filling out forms, getting in-depth medical exams, updating tetanus shots, even scrutinizing the condition of their teeth and gums. Clearly, the South Pole is no place to get a toothache.

Matt Groening patch
  The patch for awardees of the 2001-02 NSF Artists & Writers Grant, designed by Matt Groening of "The Simpsons" fame.

Once declared physically (and dentally) fit, they’ll pack up hundreds of pounds of specially prepared, cold-resistant communication devices, computers, cameras, cables, and clothes, and head out to Christchurch, New Zealand. There, they’ll be issued their Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear. Many mittens and mukluks later, they’ll emerge to board a modified cargo plane fitted with both wheels and skis to take a noisy, crowded, uncomfortable eight-hour flight across the polar seas.

Even after they get there, though, they still won’t be able to go far. Newbies on the ice, it turns out, have a lot to learn.

A few of the many forms
Just a few of the many forms our team had to complete in order to gain admittance to Antarctica.  

For their first week in Antarctica, Mary, Julie, Noel, and Paul will be attending "Happy Camper School." At this mandated survival course, they’ll learn how to walk safely on snow and ice, fish each other out of yawning crevasses, pitch tents in howling winds, and build igloos when those tents blow away.

Fit and experienced, they’ll finally be ready to venture out on their own. Paul and Noel plan on doing some mountaineering — on the slopes of one of the world’s most active volcanoes; Mary, an accomplished scuba diver, will be exploring under the water, under the ice; and Julie wants to poke around behind the scenes, training her sights on people who aren’t normally in the camera’s eye.



Origins Exploratorium ANTARCTICA


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