Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Antarctica – Posts from Way Down Under

It is the Austral Summer. It is travel season for those making their ways to Antarctic research stations. There are a number of scientists, students and even an artist or two who have recorded their experiences. Yes, there are bloggers in Antarctica. You think you have a shaky Internet connection? Try blogging from Antarctica.

Making the Journey

Many of the American scientists and researchers travel to the McMurdo Station. Ice Stories, Dispatches from Polar Scientists have a number of folks blogging from both poles. In 2009, the focus is on Antarctica. On the website there are stories, photos and videos of the experiences of those that are going or have just come back from the coldest place on earth.

Heidi Roop is spending three months as a science technician at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide. Heidi writes about how many miles she had flown and how many more miles she has to go. You can view a map video from her starting point in Arizona to her destination, the McMurdo Station.

The science community are not the only folks going to Antarctica. There is at least one artist making the trip. Elise Engler will be leaving in December 2009. Her task will be to document the work and social life at the station.

Things To Do

Shilpa Gulati, is working on her doctorate in Mechanical Engineering. I learned from her University of Texas at Austin Mechanical Engineering department page she is in the West Lake Bonney area working on the Environmentally Non-Disturbing Under-ice Robotic ANtarctic Explorer AKA ENDURACE Robotic project.


Shilpa also has a blog where she goes into details about the project and her experiences.

We spent the morning looking at data from yesterday and trying to debug the communications failure problem. We had some ideas but we were not sure what the exact problem was. The mission for the day involved traveling to the narrows – the part of lake that connects west lobe to the east lobe. The bot swam about 1.5 km to reach the far east – this is the farthest the bot had ever been. Much remains unknown about this part of the lake and we were very excited to see the visualizations from the sonars on the bot. We might go there again later for getting more data.

There are photos of Shilpa and her team members as they work on the software and hardware challenges of getting the robot functional.

Isabelle Brissac at Project SCINI has photos of what a blistery day can look like at McMurdo. She is and Electrical Engineer working on an underwater robotics project. The team members of Project SCINI has a daily blog page called, The Daily Slog.

Of course, somebody has to feed these folks. They Don’t Cook Penguins is a blog written by Cook On The Ice, who prepares meals in challenging conditions. It is not like you can pop down to the store for basil. What do you do when it can take a really long time for a food delivery?

Coming Home

Sarah Rush recorded her experiences on her ICELilly blog posts at TravelBlog. This is one of her posts on the Dorm Room and the Humidifier:

In 24 days, I will be packing up my stuff, throwing it onto a C-17, and flying away to New Zealand where I'll finally see my Nate - and the whole Antarctica experience will be in the past. When a little blurb in a chapter of life ends, I'm left wondering what will happen next. What's next? When will I get a chance to feel that anxious/excited/nervous of the unknown feeling again? I think that when you're in the middle of an experience, a little reality is lost because you're so wrapped up in what is happening in front of your eyes. No matter how hard you try, you just can't imagine it ending and what it will be like to say, "When I was on the Ice....."


There was one of her posts that is always amazing to me no matter how many times or ways a Dream Comes True can happen:
Today was better than opening a Christmas present. Today was something of pure luck, something that I want to believe only my Mom made happen. She made so many things happen for me when she was alive, I owe so much to her and her only; but this was a gift I've been waiting for for since I set foot on this continent.

I am most grateful that I am no where near a place that requires three digits to express a wind chill factor. I am also grateful that I got a chance to peep in on extraordinary life experiences and photography. I hope you can find time to learn about the projects at the Antarctic research stations.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.


  1. I have a friend who has traveled to all of the continents but Anartica. I will share this with her. It's her last milestone (for travel). Your varied interests never cease to amaze me.

  2. Thanks but I think it might be a form of insanity. Hard to go a day without learning something new.

    Today I learned from never, ever wear pink, black mesh or shorty-shorts at the same time.

    Seriously, I was traumatized with fascination. That site is an ethnographers research project come true. Thanks for reading.