Robotic Search for Antarctic Meteorites Patriot Hills 1998 Expedition
The 1997-98 field season in Patriot Hills, Antarctica, proved quite
useful for the field team members and the project in general. There was
a lot to be learned through first-hand experience in Antarctic conditions,
working with experts in Geology and Planetary Science, observing the logistical
support and resources provided by Adventure Network International (ANI),
and conducting experiments and component tests. This document will outline
experiences in the field and some of the important lessons learned.
More "relevant" pre-deployment ORT (Operations Readiness Test). Blue Knob
was about weather, but there were far more issues to look at. That field
day did not point out to us that there was a need for two small generators,
for example. For next year, maybe a one week pre-deployment test in the
field with the robot and field team in a remote location, to see what we
forgot or really need.
Carefully plan and allocate resources. One small oversight can affect everyone
else's work. Document resource allocation and follow it. Plan for contingencies
such as changes in resources. Keep updates on current state of resource
plans. We had a meeting on resource requirements but then never made any
final decisions on resource availability and allocation.
One essential resource to be planned is Nomad time allocation. This will
be tricky. Should probably schedule 12 hours of work per day and work for
24 whenever possible. Can even schedule to have people working with the
robot 24 hours per day and living on a rotating sleep schedule type of
Contingency planning. What would you do with XYZ resources. What happens
if you only have X, etc. That way, when the situations arise we are prepared
and not forced into panic mode. This cuts both ways, of course, since you
can waste a lot of time planning for unlikely contingencies, but we should
have had a plan for working with only one skidoo or no skidoos.
Same old problem: lack of communication between people.
PR stuff is necessary: Flags, patches, stickers (various reasonable sizes),
information brochures, etc. Never know who you will need to discuss the
project with and these things help greatly.
First aid training for every field team member is NECESSARY. The Garriot
group had a broken collar bone happen rather innocently and rather soon
after arrival. Liam and I spent ten days in a field camp about 8 km from
Patriot Hills, about an hour away from medical assistance at best, and
often also about a half hour or forty minutes away from our short wave radio,
which would be needed in order to get that help.
ANI Personnel and Facilities
Punta Arenas: Ann, Faye, Leslie, and Rachel. Ann is managing director of ANI.
Faye handles accounts. Leslie handles client relations, such as booking
our flights back to PGH. Rachel handles logistics for insertion.
Patriot Hills: Steve Pinfield, Camp Manager. Steve basically directs all
ANI staff and contracted support staff in Patriot Hills.
Hercules C-130 flights into Antarctica, chartered through SAFAir out of
South Africa. 1700 km, 6 1/2 hour flight into Patriot Hills. Craft lands
on wheels on a 2 km long blue ice runway. Weather must be exceptionally
clear for the Herc to come in, giving rise to the term "Herc weather."
Landing on the blue ice is decidedly rougher than landing on a concrete
runway in a 747, but not bad. Fuselage is pressurized, and commercial airline
style seats have been added, so it is not a bare-bones military style flight,
Two Twin Otter aircraft. Planes, pilots, and crew are all contracted through
Ken Borek Air, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Takeoff and landing are done
using skis on a snow runway (skiway). Twin otter flights primarily serve
to shuttle climbers to Vinson Massif, tourists to South Pole, and to extract
expeditioners in emergency or upon completion of trek.
Cessna flights, also supported through Ken Borek and operated from skiway.
Cessna flights are available on a per hour flight time basis and allow
more flexibility in landing sites, etc. Alex, Bill, and Pascal used a little
over one hour of Cessna time to search the region for promising blue ice
Kitchen: Next most important thing is eating. The kitchen tent is constructed
out of four Polarhaven tents connected in a long line. Two cooks, Mike
Holmes and Fran Orio, cooked three meals a day, for anywhere between three
and 50 clients in addition to the staff. We were also able to go and eat
whatever we could find between meals, which was important since we often
slept through breakfast and ate late at night.
Field guides: Simon Garrod at PH base camp guides field expeditions and
acted as our field guide for the duration of our stay. Dave Hahn at Vinson
guides mountaineering expeditions. Lisa Holiday acts as a field guide near
base camp in addition to client relations in PH. Also, Peter and Mike Sharp
Pilots: Maxo Weldon flies the Cessna and guides flying expeditions including
Cessna trips to Pole. Ken Borek pilots Steve King and Jim Haffe, along
with KB mechanics Lionel and Billy support all twin otter flights.
Skidoos: Art Mortvedt, long time bush pilot and veteran of Arctic and Antarctic
field work. Art runs a wilderness lodge at 67N in Alaska, and has spent
many years with AREA research in the Arctic, and is an all around great
guy. Maintains all ANI snowmobiles. They have about 8 skidoos, including
4 Yamaha, 2 Arctic Dogs, and 2 Skandics. Their skidoos appear to be
in precarious condition, an observation confirmed by some off-the-record
comments from [unnamed] ANI staff and contractors.
Radio Communications: Doug Woods, veteran of wilderness communications
issues. ANI operates HF radios for communication with ANI in Punta as well
as Vinson Base, South Pole, expeditioners, and field camps (Liam and I).
HF is used extensively while the Herc is in the air, with constant communication
between Punta and SAFAir during flight with relays and updates to PH from
Punta. Also VHF for camp communications mostly between radio tent and kitchen
Power generation: Doug wears two hats. ANI operates a 1 kW (@ 28 Knots)
wind generator which supplies them with more power than they need. Lead
acid batteries are continually charged and radios and computers run off
inverters connected to the batteries. Solar panels are also used to charge
hand held VHF radio NiCads. One 1 kW gasoline generator is used as backup
in the event of a long period of clouds and calm wind.
Weather Observation and Forecasting: Alexandro Parada, Meteorologist from
Uraguay Army. NOAA satellite weather data downloaded periodically, and
local observations made at PH camp, PH runway, Vinson Base, McMurdo, and
South Pole. Observations and satellite images are used to make weather
predictions which are usually accurate for 6-12 hours. Apparently satellite
receivers and NOAA software is available to the public and is used by many
avocational pilots and sailors.
Medical: Dr. Kate Brown, GP from Australia is the medical team. I never
actually saw the medical tent, but there is basically a limited supply
of emergency medical essentials to cover broken bones, altitude sickness,
First thing to note: Conditions were unusually favorable even for Patriot
Hills standards. According to ANI staff, this was a particularly good season
Patriot Hills climate was much more mild than I expected. Air Temperature
was typically 0 to -5 C, occasionally down to -10 C. Lowest temperature
I actually measured was -12 C. Alex's notes say it went down to -15, but
I don't know whether this came from ANI weather observations/logs or not.
Winds were typically about 10 to 20 knots, with occasional gusts of 60
knots or more, so wind chills reached extreme cold. According to Ann Kershaw,
gusts can reach 100 knots.
Conditions are typically stable, sunny sky stays sunny for a long time.
Cloudy overcast sky stays cloudy for a long time. However, exceptions to
the rule can be extreme as well. We had a whiteout blow in and the storm
front itself must have been moving at about 40 to 60 kilometers per hour.
I don't know whether the whiteout was predicted, but it surprised us and
overtook us while we were coming up to base camp from the PH moraine.
Conditions were typically warm and sunny, but a few overcast periods occurred
as well. On January 6th, a whiteout hit that stayed for about 5 days, during
which little got done.
Weather prediction is possible, forecasts can be reasonably accurate for
12 hours ahead. ANI's Alexandro had weather reports about twice a day and
had more than that when the Herc was scheduled. Weather forecasts were
done using satellite images and local observations on conditions at Patriot
Hills, Vinson Base (from climbers too), McMurdo, South Pole.
Steve Pinfield's opinion was that ANI does not need a meteorologist, and
that they can simply make their own observations and predict weather 6
hours ahead well enough to make decisions on Herc flights.
Extreme cold and wind was balanced by days of near 0 temperatures, cloudless
skies, and calm air, feeling warmer than typical Pittsburgh winter weather.
Conditions in the valley between Patriot and Independence Hills were similar,
although conditions near the moraine were always much more windy, usually
a factor of about 1.5 higher.
We should have photocopies of hourly weather condition reports for the
duration of our stay in Patriot Hills. Observations were made by ANI staff
and recorded continuously.
We also have 800 megabytes of NOAA satellite image data from the camp meteorologist.
These may be of dubious utility, but they were relatively easy to obtain
and we have them if anyone is interested in seeing them. Feasible to have
our own satellite receiver for weather monitoring? (Alex)
Lighting: All day sun, very bright. I ended up using the ND 2.0 filter
all the time. CCD cameras require either extremely small apertures (f16
too large) or dark filters. Glare is high, it is very difficult to see TFT
Surface conditions vary greatly. Blue ice is hard and slick, and has the
surface texture of an ocean or lake on a windy day. On warm days, the top
surface of ice melts slightly and becomes very treacherous to walk on without
Sastruggi are hard packed snow dunes. Bicycle tires would often punch through
the surface, but usually the sastruggi will hold a person waking on them
Snow drifts accumulated after the whiteout around January 5th. Drifts were
light and compactable, and very loose since they were well frozen and did
snow did not pack together. Difficult to walk through, and impossible to
Moraines consist of very thin layers of rock deposited on ice. Often the
surface of the moraine is at a very steep angle. Walking on these slopes
of loose rock can be difficult even with crampons since the rocks slide
out from under your feet.
Blue ice along the North side of the Patriot Hills consists of rolling
hills of ice sloping down sharply into a sun cup, with slopes of about
20 to 30 degrees. The ice flattens into refrozen melt pools, where the
surface is more like an ice skating rink or frozen lake, then rises to a
moraine. About 500 meters to 1 km away from the actual hill the blue ice
has crevasses with openings ranging from about 2 cm to maybe about a meter,
with a sort of 1/f distribution.
The South side of the Patriot Hills is heavily drifted in and crevassed.
Looking for meteorites here is pointless, of course, as well as being very
Blue ice along the North side of the Independence Hills is flat, rising
to a ridge-like moraine, with a steep slope of about 35 to 45 degrees. The
top of the ridge is characterized by piles of loose slate and very high
winds. The moraine consists of very loose rock, largely slate, and is extremely
difficult to walk on. The moraine slopes down to a blue ice field scattered
with rocks, then to a sun cup similar to the Patriot Hills and then a rising
The South side of the Independence Hills is an ice plateau. The plateau
was visited by Bill, Pascal, and Alex, who found no meteorites but surely
got a nice perspective of the Horseshoe Valley. The site is not promising,
and it logistically difficult to visit, requiring either a long (three
hour?) skidoo ride or a Cessna flight.
Little precipitation observed, although often airborne snow occurs in the
form of low sweeping drifts. The blowing snow can be difficult to work
in, especially in high winds (feels like being sandblasted) or low to the
ground (generator shelter top was at around ground level).
Crevasses are dangerous, but may be detectable by radar. Crevasses on blue
ice can be easy to see, but crevasses near drifted snow can be pretty impossible
Low altitude and warm temperatures are likely causes for lack of meteorites.
Cryochonite holes may trap meteorites several centimeters below the surface
of the ice.
Conditions near the hills and moraines can be significantly different (i.e.
more windy) than conditions 1 or 2 km away.
Working in the conditions
Crampons are necessary for work on blue ice.
Stabilizers (similar to crampons, but with more, smaller spikes) seem to
be of questionable utility on blue ice, and bad for moraines.
Good glacier glasses are key. I did not have a pair and often had bright
light coming in around the sides of my glasses. The sky is often very clear
and the sun very bright, and the UV in Antarctica is high.
Good to stay a little warmer than necessary. When the body is warm it dumps
heat into the head and hands to radiate, keeping hands warm. If your core
gets cold, the hands get cut off and will get very cold.
24 hour daylight and good weather combine to make keeping a regular schedule
difficult. Tend to work late and miss breakfast. Liam and I were particularly
bad with that over at IH since we depended on noon or meals or wakeup
calls. Missed radio schedules regularly.
Performance is greatly reduced. Physical effort exerted is greater due
to resistance of gear, dealing with wind, etc. Time is spent trying to
keep wind off your face or keep your hands warm.
Consider whiteouts. Can't get anything done or go anywhere.
Difficult to see laptop screens, and things in shade. Requires taking lenses
on and off to see without blinding yourself when you are not looking at
the screen or shaded objects.
Hard to sleep with light. Personally, I had no trouble with this, but others
did. Perhaps eye masks would help. Reduced sleep impinges on work efficiency.
Need big buttons, way too hard to type on a keyboard. Optimize interface
to use gloved.
Take notes with a tape recorder. Excellent idea.
Camcorder was effective for documentation. Smaller camcorder would be much
Minimize tasks which require manual dexterity.
Use audible feedback from system, instead of visual. Maybe radio wireless
headset with Nomad to combat noise level.
Slopes near PH and IH moraines block LOS to base camp. No VHF communications with
base camp from more than 1 km away, until you get out to the Independence
Hills moraine, where occasionally just the right cloud cover exists to
bounce signals at a shallow angle (since it's about 8-9 km away) down to
the radio tent, but only the ANI radio tent radio was sensitive enough
to get them. Short Wave would offer more reliable communications.
Alex points out that communication problems (loss of LOS) are similar to experiences
in Atacama, and that the dGPS currently relies on LOS for correction signals
and could not get a signal more than a kilometer away.
Even if we get direct satellite communication from the rover to the States, we will want
to send telemetry to the base camp, so we need to have some reliable communication.
Iridium or something similar would require two tranceivers and allow direct
control of the rover from USA and also through a field camp control station.
Headsets for radios. Too difficult to keep mic on clothing or to keep it
inside clothing where one must open jacket to use radio.
Voice operated microphones so that you don't need to operate a contact
switch in order to communicate.
VHF only works reliably for team communications within a small area where all have
line of sight to other members of the party.
HF was necessary for Independence Hills Science Camp, and allowed communication
with Vinson base directly. Could enable direct communication to Theil Mountains
and even South America.
Personally I think HF may be an interesting way for the robot to transmit
low data rate information, like just a heartbeat or other status signal
as a backup to high BW communcation.
Implications of weather on electronic devices
Screen warming turns out to be a non-issue. Laptops appeared to work outside
with no trouble for the most part. Hard drives, however, are fragile and
affected by cold. Kurt's died. Liam's had trouble starting at times. Chemical
warming pads helped Liam's hard drive. Also crashed a PCMCIA hard disk.
Heat tape works extremely well. Warmed the Dalsa effectively and kept the
LCD screen working. Good idea to wire heaters to a power source independent
of other devices to warm things before turning them on.
Drifting snow was never a problem with electronics or other devices. Pano
had no snow accumulation. Solar had none. Liam's solar panels had some
drifting snow accumulating on them but they were in a particularly bad
spot for drifting.
Drifting snow will be a problem for Nomad if it sits still for any period
of time. Powering out will be difficult. As long as Nomad can keep moving
under heavy airborne snow and wind, it will be OK.
Implications of environment on robot design
Terrainability requirements. Nomad may be required to traverse moraine
areas to search for meteorites, and that will require traveling on loose
rock on ice. Nomad will not be able to climb the moraine, however, since
it is even difficult for efficient walking machines (us). Pascal thinks
that traversing moraines will be required. Alex would like to see the robot
climb the steep moraine. I would be happy to keep terrainability tractable
and stay on blue ice.
Autonomous traverse of the north side of the IH Moraine to the end, and
up the south side into the blue ice lagoon. This will retrace some of Liam's
path taken with the spectrometer sled.
Efficiency of wheels and tracks on the surface conditions.
Patriot Hills blue ice field crevasses appear to be filled with very hard-packed
snow, which Alex calls "safe," although you won't catch me jumping on it.
Alex feels that these crevasses offer a great opportunity to test subterranean
obstacle detection with crevasses that look just like dangerous ones to
the radar but won't suck in Nomad if it drives over them.
Camp Setup / Life
Liam had troubles with the Thermarest, and thinks that a foam mattress
would be more reliable since it cannot be punctured.
We should have brought a coffee machine.
Would be nice to have a water heater, at least to keep melted water.
Bring a radio.
Short Wave transceiver is an essential piece of survival gear and also good
for entertainment. For entertainment, a receiver would suffice and could
be part of the radio mentioned above. For survival gear or field equipment,
obviously a tranceiver is necessary.
Coleman Dual Fuel stove was difficult to use and eventually was used as
a base and windscreen for an MSR stove. Burning unleaded in a stove in
an enclosed environment proved to be pretty stinky. Burning white gas would
be OK, but not unleaded. The coleman can burn indoors but not the MSR.
Caribiners, harnesses, and ropes were pretty useless. We used biners as
hooks and hooks would have been nicer and cheaper. The harnesses and ropes
were never opened and have been cached for next year.
Tables and shelving are necessary. We tied up a crate lid to the Polarhaven
internal frame, and used crates as tables along with a plastic table borrowed
Rubbermaid boxes were nice for organizing things, but were allocated for
rock samples. Need more for personal gear and organizing other things.
Whiteboard. Calendar. Posters?
Cleaning supplies. Rags. Paper towels. Hand cleaning creams. Supplies to
clean generators, laptop screens, etc. Kimwipes. Laundry detergent. Facial
tissues. I had a runny nose all month.
Bamboo cane is essential for markers, tent pegs, etc. Metal tent pegs tend
to warm up in the sun, melt the snow around them, and pull out. Long poles
are useful to mark a trail between camp sites or work sites and camp in
case of loss of visibility. Bamboo cane can be cut into smaller pieces
Bicycles were of limited utility. Blue ice travel is difficult due to strong
gusts of wind. Sastruggi are passable with deflated tires, but deflated
tires cause even more problems on ice. Drifted snow is impossible because
of sinkage of tires. Flat tires work better on snow due to flotation and
worse on ice due to low stud contact force.
Space for generators that won't fill with snow. Generators melted their
way down into the snow and broke the crate they were in and also got covered
with snow regularly. Possible to put a tent up for the generator? Plywood
floor necessary for generator shelter. Possibly the ANI latrine style shelter
Bring another small generator.
UPS is necessary. Brief outages brought down Atacama several times. Solar
panels charging batteries may suffice for power production.
Jerry can nozzle tool. Too difficult to attach and remove nozzles. Wider
nozzles would facilitate better fluid flow as well.
Plywood floor for Endurance tent. The tent floor ended up very uneven and
bumpy due to melting and pressure of cot legs, people, etc.
Alternative power sources deserve some investigation. ANI powers their
entire camp with solar panels and wind generators. Of course, their power
needs are not what ours were or are likely to be, but it is still feasible.
Solar power may suffice for laptops, but requires good sunlight and pointing.
Four fit OK in the Endurance tent.
Six would fit OK in the Polarhaven.
Endurance for workspace, Polarhaven for Nomad. Need much more sleeping
space, but we can use FACH tents for that.
Hard cases are useful for electronics. Pelican cases worked well for my
cameras, the VHF radios, Liam's laptop, etc.
Lighter sleeping bags. Slept unclothed and still sweated regularly. Possible
to return bags for lighter ones?
Work gloves. Even the wide assortment of gloves available to us was lacking,
mostly because the most popular gloves (NF Windstopper) fell apart and
required duck tape wrapped around fingers to hold together. Simple $3.00
work gloves would have held better and could be used as overgloves.
Large wooden sled. Advantages: cheap, wide and stable, compliant, disassembles
Clinometer to measure slopes of terrain better. Most of the numbers here
were generated by my own personal estimates.
Standardize packing boxes. Find suitable flight box and use for everything.
Pack Polarhaven into several boxes not one monolithic crate. Wooden crates
are falling apart and will be full of snow when we return.
Bring labeling material for return.
Laundry. It would be easier to have two changes of clothing or so and wash
them than to bring a new set of clothes for each week of operations.
Documentation production. Need to bring much more film. If I were to be
in charge of documentation next year, I would bring 300 rolls. Video tape.
Someone specifically in charge of documentation. (Pascal?) Should keep
Marcy Garriot in mind as well for this. She seemed very interested, and
produces documentary videos in a professional capacity. She may even pay
her own ticket just to go with us.
Good idea is to assemble a survival pack for each person who goes on a
field trip. Compass, emergency blanket, etc. Compasses should be weighted
for high South latitudes, since Northern hemisphere compasses performed
Assemble survival pack which should be taken by any group of people on
a field trip. Include maps, GPS, HF radio, etc. Some items like these are
not needed by more than one member of a team, but any team will need at
Mark camp with bamboo cane as markers. Set up trails between work and living
sites. Familiarize everyone with camp layout.
Leatherman tools were very useful. I used mine daily.
Crampons are necessary for field work on blue ice.
Chemical hand warmers worked well, but are better as a preventative measure
than a remedial one.
Always carry a sleeping bag whenever you leave camp. You can never be sure
that you will return within the day. (Carlos)
Always carry a book or some other reading material. You never know when
a whiteout may hit and keep you in a tent with nothing to do for days.
Pack extra clothing (overmitts especially) since conditions may worsen.
Good windproof clothing and eyewear are needed for skidoo trips. You have
to add about 20 km/hr to the wind speed and hence wind chill factor.
Field guide is a good idea. Two possibilities exist for working with Simon
Garrod next year. One would be to hire him directly and have him take leave
of ANI for the duration of our work. The other would be to contract ANI
to give us a field guide for our work, and pay ANI.
Power generation for field camp. Small generator or solar panels, etc.
Charging laptops, etc.
Fit a Vinson climb into the schedule.
Bring ice skates. (Alex) The refrozen ice melt is skateable. ANI calls it
Resources to improve operations next season
At least two skidoos. Redundancy adds a safety net. If we had broken down
at Minaret the cost of chartering an ANI skidoo to come rescue us would
have justified renting two skidoos.
Independent HF (SW) Communications separate from FACH. Should be possible to talk
to PGH from Patriot Hills. Try listening on 17.____, 5026, 4500(?) (Ask
Jazz drives? Zip drives? The tape drive we brought had mechanical problems.
Packing supplies for return. Boxes, new crates? Wood and better screws
to rebuild crates we have. Rubbermaid totes.
One unnamed field team member requests that we bring chocolate, beer, women,
and drugs. Several thought we only really needed chocolate, beer, and women.
Most agreed that we should at least have chocolate and beer, and we were
unanimously decided that there is no excuse not to bring chocolate.
About 8 crates and one sled:
Polarhaven: Floor, side & end walls, poles.
5 kW generator
650 W generator, 4 full jerry cans, power cords,
Liam's battery box
Radar sled, printer, packing foam
Large stoves, fuel pumps
Camp sundries: cots, thermarests, bamboo, tent pegs, bungees, bins, etc.
Large sled, Endurance tent, banana sled
Searches: We covered areas including: Patriot Hills Moraine, Independence
Hills Moraine, Eastern Independence Hills, Minaret Bowl, ...
No meteorites in Patriot Hills area! Same conclusion drawn by Owen Garriot
group, (representing the Planetery Studies Foundation, the Owen Garriot
Family Foundation, and the DuPont Collection).
CMU/NASA searchers covered PH moraine, IH moraine, IH range to the Eastern
bowl, Morris Cliffs, Ice tongue and moraine, Minaret, plateau, (what else?).
After no meteorites were found at these locations, Bill and Pascal speculate
that the altitude is too low for meteorites, based partly on the cryochonite
phenomenon where rocks are warmed by radiation from the sun and melt the
ice through conduction of heat, sinking into the melted snow which then
freezes over. Meteorites deposited in the PH region are likely melted under
and very hard to find.
On the other hand, the Garriot group searched several areas at higher altitudes,
flying all the way to Vinson Massif and stopping at several South Face
blue ice fields in the Ellsworth range. They reported lower incidence of
cryochonite melting but still no meteorites.
Need to determine site for future expeditions:
All of our gear is in Patriot Hills. Need to think about that cache if
we want to move sites.
Obviously must select site with meteorites for final demos.
Advantageous to select site based not just on where meteorites exist, but
where meteorites are easy to distinguish from terrestrial rocks. (Pascal)
Pascal seems a bit pessimistic about reaching what appears to be our success
criterion and thinks that it is narrow minded, just like Lunar Ice. Not
a broad enough and interesting enough science goal. Broaden to "remote
geologist", not meteorite hunter.
Need to select site where logistical support infrastructure is in place
or will be in place, of course. FACH, ANI, Sanae, BAS(?), Ansmet(?), others?
Can we demonstrate Nomad in Patriot Hills with or without meteorites (or
with planted meteorites?) next field season and still have a relevant field
trial? In other words, is finding a meteorite part of the success criterion
for 1999 season? Surely in 2000 it is, which means that we cannot return
to Patriot Hills in two years time.
Plan for next year: Send Nomad and robotics team to Patriot Hills, and
a small field team to another site to look for the Mecca of Meteorites.
One promising area that is reachable by twin otter from Patriot Hills is
Thiel Mountains, half way to the Pole from PH. Used as a fuel cache for
twin otter operations by ANI and FACH already. Probably no other sites
within twin otter range of PH.
One possibility: Queen Maude Land, between about 50W and 50E longitude,
Sanae is on the coast of this region and the South Africans believe that
meteorites can be found in the region and have intended to begin field
studies. Ansmet apparently thinks the region is feasible as well. South
Africa may be amenable to helping our program, so we should talk to Sanae
as well. According to Liam, their willingness to help may depend partly
on our demonstration of our intent and qualifications. Adventure Network
International is also thinking of starting to provide support in the region
and also is interested in providing support for research and governmental
to expand client base beyond tourism. Maybe that is a good match for us
to help ANI expand and help our project succeed.
Other possibility: Get friendly with Ralph Harvey. Try to get Ansmet support.
It may be possible to get a CMU Robograd onto an Ansmet field party, where
that person would gain valuable experience and represent our group to Ansmet.
May open doors for collaboration through diplomacy, and get permission
to search in meteorite rich areas known to Ansmet.
All experiments went well, and enough data has been collected to keep several
people busy for quite some time. ANI relations were excellent and their
logistical support did an excellent job of facilitating field work. Some
interesting relationships were formed, including unsolicited publicity
through Marcy Garriot, sharing of information and exploratory experience
in the region with the Planetary Studies Foundation, and meeting two potential
field guides, Simon and Art, should one be required for operations next
year. Doug is willing to offer some information on both short wave communications
and alternative power sources, as he plans to write reports for ANI internal
documentation on both subjects and I have already requested copies if the
document is actually produced. No meteorites were found, but finding out
that Patriot Hills has no meteorites was valuable and it is good to know
that constraint now, as candidate sites are already under consideration
and investigation. Conclusions will be drawn by individual experimenters
on the results of their respective field tests and experiences, and reported
shortly. Lastly, it's good to be back!
Back to the 1997
Robotic Search for Antarctic Meteorites 1998
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