Friday, November 5, 2010

Heading to Antarctica!

On Nov. 8th I will depart from sunny California and with a quick one day stop in Christchurch, New Zealand I will be in Antarctica. Now this isn't just a trip to Antarctica, this is the trip to Antarctica. Please allow me to gloat a little bit. After arriving at Scott Base on Ross Island I will begin a 5 day field training course to make sure I survive the expedition I will be taking on. After training, 8 of us will be flown halfway up Mount Erebus where we will acclimatise to the altitude by living in unheated tents for a couple of days. Then we will travel to the top of Mount Erebus to reach the "Lower Erebus Hut" at an altitude of 12,000 ft. We will stay there for 2 weeks doing daily trips to "fields"/fumeroles where the snow has melted away due to hot volcanic gases (did I forget to mention that the Mount Erebus is a active volcano?). The main goal is to collect soil samples and environmental data to examine the microbes living in this extreme environment. At the research station there is a small heated hut for meal times and work, but sleep will still be in the same cold tents with 24 hour sunshine. Dehydrated food and -20 to -40 C temperatures will ensure I lose some weight, but that is an added bonus.

To say that I am excited is an under-statement. Sure it will be hard to be away from my family for a month and the altitude sickness will make me feel like crap, but the chance to go on such a crazy expedition ruled out any chance of me turning it down.
How many scientists, especially those that do bioinformatics, gets a chance to do field work like this!?


Adam Retchless said...

Wow Morgan, that's awesome!

On the technical side, what's the chance that there is nothing there to sample? Or at least, that the microbes won't be dense enough to get a good sample?

Anyway, good luck, and I look forward to seeing the results.

i9606 said...

How on Earth did you finagle this trip??? Don't they realize you work on a computer with an internet connection... So, so, so incredibly jealous!!!!!