Dec 2018 – Feb 2019 Field Season Plans

Katie Joy | 19 Nov 2018

An update on our field plans…

We are making two separate trips to Antarctica for our first season on the ice. Both field campaigns have different objectives, but come together to lay the ground for our main field expedition in 2019-2020.

Katie flies out to Chile on the 20th December 2018, where after landing in Santiago, she will fly down to the southernmost tip of the South American continent to Punta Arenas, the main Antarctic gateway for the British Antarctic Survey. BAS’s DASH 7 plane will then transport her to Antarctic peninsula, and she will meet up with field guide Julie at Rothera research station. After training, packing the field equipment for transport (and Christmas!) the team of two will be flying out to the deep field via a Twin Otter prop plane for a blue icefield meteorite search reconnaissance mission. The exact field plans will be weather and surface condition dependent, but we are aiming to try and visit several icefields close to the Recovery Glacier region (south of the Shackleton Mountain region). We may get the chance to fly through BAS’s Halley VI Research Station on route to the field. Four weeks of field work will involve searching these sites and collecting any meteorite samples that are found on the ice. The samples will be returned to the UK for further study next year and will provide vital information about which ice fields are productive search areas, and what types of meteorites have emerged at the surface. We will use this knowledge to plan which field site to return to in December 2019 for the main expedition. After four weeks Katie and Julie will fly back to Rothera, and return to the UK in early February.

Close up of season plans supported by the British Antarctic Survey showing the main research station locations. Location of previous meteorites in the region is denoted by a green star. We will be visiting Sky Blu and icefields close to Recovery glacier. [Image: K H Joy]

Geoff will be heading down to Antarctica later than Katie in early January 2019 (following the same route via Chile to the Peninsula). We are hoping to have a day or so overlap in Rothera to touch base and finalise the field equipment unpacking (see previous blog post). Geoff and BAS’s Mike Rose will be heading out to the Sky Blu ice runway, which is a blue icefield used as a transport airstrip. The guys will spend a week or so at the runway site testing the metal detector panel array that was built back in Manchester and in Cambridge. This will help tune the sensitivity of the system to detect metal objects buried at different depths in the ice, to test the electronic signal processing at appropriate skidoo speeds and the ruggedness of the detector array system. We will understand a lot more about the panel performance after these vital tests, which can feed forward to improvements for the main sub-surface meteorite trip in 2019. Geoff will get back to the UK in late January 2019.

Sky Blu Melon hut and ancillary facilities, taken on approach to the runway. The hut and facilities are located about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) from the runway, pictured top left.
The Ice Blu air logistics and ice runway site will be Geoff’s field base in January 2019 [Image: Wikipedia]

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