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24 December, 2001

Question of the day: What other planet is Antarctica said to be most like? (analog) (Answer appears at the end of today's journal entry.)

Six more meteorites found today. Five during a moraine search at "the lake" and one on the ice field on our way back to camp. "The lake" was found to have meteorites last season. When the team returned to search it systematically, they found that the surrounding ice had melted, formed a lake, and refroze with the meteorites in it! This year, we find that some of that ice is gone, and we were able to recover 5 meteorites.

The original plan for today was to quit early and allow some R&R time for everyone on Christmas eve. It didn't happen. We stopped at Olsen Ridge to drop off part of the team who had to do some soil sampling on the top of the ridge. Instead, we all decided to climb. Another first for me--I've never gone mountain/ridge/rock climbing--and this was some ridge!

Our mountaineer, Jaime, roped both Linda and me to him and up we went. Quite an experience! Ralph led the group and cut steps out of the snow on the very steep areas. As we neared the top, the snow was replaced by rock which was easier to climb, but I wished I had longer legs! It probably would not have been such a challenge if we each weren't wearing 30 pounds of ECW gear!

When we reached the top it was as if we had reached the planet Mars. The entire top of the ridge was covered with red dirt and rocks--a perfect Mars analog. Of course, the view was also spectacular. After sampling and picture-taking, we descended the rock area and "slid" down the snowy area--definitely easier going down than going up!

At times a frightening experience--but worth it!

Answer to today's "Question of the day": Antarctica is often compared to Mars. The dry valleys and some ridgetops have areas that simulate the surface of Mars.

Try this!

You will need: clear plastic container or cup

about 1 cup of sand

about 1T steel wool (cut in small pieces) or iron filings water

Pour the sand into the cup. Mix in the steel wool or iron filings. Pour enough water to cover. Place on a window sill and observe what happens. (The sand will turn red as the steel rusts (oxidizes). It will look very similar to Mars dirt.


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