A different kind of Christmas…

At this time of year many of us are dreaming of a white Christmas while searching for that perfect present, thinking about what to pack for visiting our familes and planning nights out on the town with friends.

But each year a group of scientists have to plan and pack for a completely differerent kind of trip over the festive period. They are guaranteed a white Christmas, but only by going to the coldest place on Earth…

Searching for meteorites on skidoos (Image courtesy of NASA)

The long running Antarctic Search for Meteorites program organises expeditions during the southern hemisphere’s summer each year to search for meorites in the Antarctic. The team typically spend around 6 weeks living and working on the ice sheet, camping in temperatures which would have most of us running for the nearest  tropical island. They spend their time searching for meteorites on the ice.

This year’s expedition is just getting started. Team members will be heading to McMurdo Station (the US Antarctic research station on Ross Island) within the next few days. There they will undergo some safety training and stock up on supplies for the duration of the expedition, before heading out to the Miller Range Icefield where they will conduct a full systematic search for meteorites.

Found one! (Image courtsey of NASA)

You can follow the team’s progress on their blog, which will be updated on a regular basis. The only question is how many meteorites can they find this year? Can they beat last year’s haul of over 1200?

A Martian meteorite on the ice (Image courtsey of NASA)


About Sarah Crowther

I'm a Post Doc in the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group. I study xenon isotope ratios using the RELAX mass spectrometer, to try to learn more about the origins and evolution of our solar system. I look at a wide range of samples from solar wind returned by NASA's Genesis mission to zircons (some of the oldest known terrestrial rocks), from meteorites to presolar grains.
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