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22 December, 2001

Question of the day: Why do we hunt for meteorites in Antarctica? Don't they fall all over the world? (Answer appears at the end of this journal entry.)

Technology is amazing! Today I was able to talk to my students back in San Jose, California via Iridium phone (on my end) and speaker phone (on their end). The time and pictures had previously been arranged, and at 7am (my time), 10am (their time), I was able to "make contact".

Ralph Harvey, our PI, welcomed the kids and bid them good morning. They were excited to hear our voices from Antarctica. The students were able to ask questions and view the pictures on the computer screen as I explained them. What do you eat? Where do you sleep? Where do you go to the bathroom? All very good questions.

I eat regular food, but it has to be defrosted by hanging it at the top of the tent when our stoves are lit. It's amazing, but the temperature difference between the bottom and top of the tent can be up to 60 degrees!

I sleep in a sleeping bag lined with a soft liner. The bag is on a therma-rest air pad and two sheets of 1/2 inch foam. The sleeping bag is in a 9x9 Scott tent that has a vinyl tarp for a floor. All this is staked to a bed of ice. It's actually quite comfortable!

We actually have a "poop tent" to use as our "bathroom". Inside the tent is a wooden box with a foam toilet seat. The box is lined with double trash bags. All waste is bagged and put in large polypropylene containers and eventually shipped from Antarctica to be disposed of properly.

On to today's news . . . Today we had to double up (8 team members, and only 7 working skidoos). It was to be a relatively "easy" day because we were introducing two "new" team members to meteorite hunting. We reviewed the differences between terrestrial rocks and meteorites, the procedure for "tagging and bagging" meteorites, and methods for driving a snowmobile.

14 meteorites were discovered today (including 2 by me). They all appeared to be OC's (ordinary chondrites) with varying percentages of fusion crust. Of all meteorites found to date (around 14,000 in the last 25 years), ordinary chondrites are the most abundant (about 86%).

Answer to today's "Question of the day": Meteorites do fall all over the world at the same rate. Antarctica, though, is covered with large sheets of ice and snow making it easier to find a black rock from space(meteorite).

***Note: I am back in McMurdo and will complete my journal entries in the next day or so. E-mail can now be sent to me at: plainjane_87@yahoo.com. Cheers!


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