Astrobiologist Dale Andersen Status Report 21 November 2012, Novolazarevskaya Station, Antarctica
Received from Dale Andersen Novolazarevskaya Station, Antarctica, on 21 November 2012 via Iridium email:
Hi Keith: Thanks for the weather forecasts they are very helpful.
Yesterday we packed up the three Toyota HiLux trucks and trailers and Alfonso, the three drivers from ALCI and Arctic Trucks and I carried the bulk of our gear to Lake Untersee. Its about 120 km over the glacial ice fields between Novo Station and the lake. Its a rough ride with variations in the amount of snow or blue ice that one encounters along the way but the route is relatively safe, avoiding most major crevasse fields.
About 58 km from Novo (Novolazarevskaya Station) one encounters a small set of crevasses that have to be navigated with care; they are not exceptionally large or wide, but can damage the vehicles or trailers if one is not paying attention. We had a couple of minor incidents, having to extract two of the trucks from crevasses that were just wide enough to capture two of the large, low psi tires - imagine the back wheels of a truck getting stuck in a narrow ditch as one crosses it - but again, this was a very minor problem and we were not delayed for more than twenty minutes or so.
The trucks that Arctic Trucks have modified work quite well in this environment, and the drivers are very experienced with polar conditions. Its actually quite nice to be seated in a toasty warm Toyota truck with comfortable seats and a cd player while the wind and snow are howling by outside! The weather was not particularly great, but it was good enough for us to get out and back. Navigating by GPS, we used a well defined route to avoid most hazards. Visibility was up and down quite a bit as the sky was cloudy and we had blowing snow that reduced contrast making the driving a bit tedious. During the trip our winds were 30-40 kts along the way, but began to taper off as we neared Untersee Oasis, which was welcomed since we had to offload the gear at our camp and make sure that none of it would blow away during our absence.
The trip back was uneventful but thirteen hours of rough driving to Lake Untersee and back did tire us out. Today we are resting up and making final preparations for our traverse back out to the lake tomorrow. The rest of the team (Valery Galchenko, Vladimir Akimov and Michael Becker) will use the three trucks and trailers again to take out the remaining gear while Alfonso and I make the traverse via snowmobile using our two Skandic 500SWT snowmobiles which we will need while at Lake Untersee.
So, all in all a good solid day of work, and it looks like the weather may give us a break with 25-30kt winds for a few days if the forecast holds up. The next several days will be busy as we get to the lake and pull together our camp but soon we will once again be studying one of the most fascinating lakes on the planet - perennially ice-covered Lake Untersee!
Hope to drop you another note from the lake in a couple of days after we have set up the camp.
Keith's note: Dale and I have been doing remote website updates like this for a long time. This website is our first attempt from 1996/1997. We are not exactly certain, but we think that this is one of the very first websites updated in near real time directly from Antarctica. Note the "How we Built This Website" comments if you want a look into ancient technology. Also ... note the cold, dirty guys in the last picture on this page. Its not all that unusual for Dale to email/call/Skype me from Antarctica/the Arctic (or for me to contact him from the Arctic or places like Everest Base Camp) - so the next phone call I get with no information on Caller ID is probably Dale.