Fragile Oasis

Connecting Space and Earth: Learn. Act. Make a Difference.

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Why This Blog

I appreciate that I have been given a special privilege. I realize how fortunate I am to be included in that very small group of people who have the opportunity to fly in space. Because of this, I also realize that I have a responsibility to share that experience, as best I can, with everyone who has not been given ...Keep Reading


Classic wisdom says that propane stoves do not work well in cold climes. The propane bottle will get so cold that the liquefied gas would rather stay in the tank than come out to play. Snow-bound expeditions use the old classic white gas stove. Like a medieval dragon, these white gas stoves belch black smoke and frequently squirt billows of ...Keep Reading

Featureless Humans Are Still Human

All 8 of our expedition members work closely together on a daily basis. Each morning we gather at 9:00 (New Zealand time) and go off in search of meteorites. By 18:00 we are usually back in camp after spending the day in temperatures of -20ÂșC with wind chill of -40. Shortly there after, we all disappear into our respective tents. ...Keep Reading

Perpetual Sun

In Antarctica, the summertime sun never sets. It is perpetual day. Instead of a ducking beneath the horizon, the sun circumscribes the sky every 24 hours. Due to our latitude near south 86 degrees, the sun never gets real high or real low. At local noon, the sun elevation is about 27 degrees. At local midnight, the sun elevation is ...Keep Reading

Concentrated by Wind

Another proposed mechanism to concentrate meteorites is by wind. Blown about by wind, geologists have theorized that the wind can aide in their concentration. Before I saw the wind affects first hand, I discounted this theory as nonsense. The Katabatic winds are second to none. We as humans living in our houses in cities have never seen the likes of ...Keep Reading

Stranded Ice

As a mechanism for meteorite concentration, the lateral movement of glaciers from zones of accumulation to ablation is refereed to as "the conveyor belt model." But this simple concept alone does not explain many occurrences in areas where meteorites are found. There are areas of glacier ice, blue glacier ice, that seem to be cut off from lateral movement. In ...Keep Reading

Conveyor Belt

There are a number of theories why meteorites are concentrated on the Antarctic ice sheets by about a factor of 1000 over the intrinsic fall rate [ref 1]. No matter the theory, they all hinge around the fact that the ice sheets are in a balance between growing and shrinking with areas of motion and areas of stagnation. Somehow these ...Keep Reading

Keeping Electronic Gadgets Happy

Even in the wilderness, humans can not seem to do without their electronic devices. We bring crucial mission electronics such as Iridium satellite phones, radios, GPS receivers, and laptop computers. We also bring electronic condiments, items such as cameras, iPods, and DVD players. With a few exceptions, most of these items are consumer grade electronics, and as such are optimized ...Keep Reading

Blue Ice

Feasting one's eyes on the robin egg hue of blue ice presents a natural beauty that rivals a rainbow. If Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, had a sister, she would surely be the goddess of blue ice. Considering the total extent of the East Antarctic ice sheet, these blue ice regions are rather small, extending for only a few ...Keep Reading

Living in a Freezer

One unique aspect about Antarctica is living submerged in constant cold. While these temperatures seem extreme from the perspective of your living room back home, with the proper clothing, they become quite acceptable. Humans are remarkably adaptable and soon take to these temperatures as if they were the norm. I decided to measure the temperatures around camp and came prepared ...Keep Reading