Visiting new field sites and a new skidoo

Katie Joy | 08 Jan 2019

We have been a week in the field now, with a few search days under our belts and three meteorites in the bag. It has been pretty warm here — in the last couple of days in the sun the air is between 0 and 5°C — really balmy with very little wind. There has been a mix of clear sunny skies and some high cloud as a system hangs around the area. When it clouds over here we lose contrast on the snow and ice surface and it becomes difficult to navigate between icefields. When it was cloudy yesterday we did a bit of a foot searching along the edge of our local icefield to see if we could spot any meteorites. We donned our boot chains to stop us from slipping around on the ice surface, when the sun shines there is a layer of water that starts to form on the surface making it very slippy. However, the recent snowfall from last week (or perhaps earlier in the season) has lightly covered up the surface in this particular spot, making it very challenging to spot much exposed surface blue ice and meteorites.

Taking in the field site [Credit: K H Joy]

We ventured further afield on Sunday, driving up to a large well-exposed (no snow cover) ice area close to a small nunatak (exposed mountain top) where we discovered our first meteorite samples of the season. Whoop whoop! When the sun shines and there is no wind and there are meteorites it is a pretty great day and it feels good to demonstrate that we are visiting meteorite stranding zones.

Meteorite and skidoo [Credit: K H Joy]

Alas later that afternoon we also had some skidoo issues, and despite some great remote trouble-shooting from the Halley and Rothera mechanical teams, and some in-field mech action from Julie, we needed a replacement, which arrived today. Thanks to all for the amazing response and helping get a new one out to us so quickly, and for Mark and Robbie for flying in the new ride and taking out the injured ‘doo’ (and for bringing in some fresh food!). Goodbye unlucky number 13, and hello number 11 — may you drive well for the rest of the field season. We plan to get back to work tomorrow and drive out to a new icefield — fingers crossed for some more meteorite discoveries and hopefully there won’t be much surface snow where we plan to visit.

It is amazing to live (albeit for a short time) in such a remote place — when there is no wind and you are lying in the tent at night it is so quiet and warm in the sleeping bag it is pretty hard to imagine that we are in the middle of Antarctica really (apart from being able to see your breathe as the tent cools down). We are eating well — are working our way through different types of rehydrated food options (sweet and sour chicken last night) and are trying to keep up with some of the comforts of home through improvised barista coffee making (it doesn’t work that well to be honest!), chocolate bars, and evening games.

Coffee making attempt [Credit: K H Joy]

PS Thanks Barbara for the Christmas present which was delivered to Julie in field today.
PPS Thanks Jess for the Rothera news in your letter 🙂

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