terça-feira, 27 de novembro de 2012

Former Sackville School scientist chosen for Christmas trip to Antarctica

A METEOROLOGIST has been guaranteed a white Christmas after she was accepted to participate in a science expedition in Antarctica.

Former Sackville School student Dr Katherine Joy will fly to the southern-most continent on Earth for the second successive year where she will hunt for meteorites that have crashed onto its frozen surface.

The mission, which has run since 1976, is funded by the US National Science Foundation and the Solar System Exploration division of NASA, and its findings will be submitted to the space agency to be studied.

Dr Joy said: "There are meteorites all over the world but as there is no rain in Antarctica they cannot be washed away, nor can their structures change. They are also a lot easier to find because they are black in the white snow.

"The most exciting discoveries are the meteorites from the Moon and Mars; they are the rarest that we find. Using snow mobiles, we go to different sites, or we go on foot to search through rocks.

"Depending on the weather we should spend eight hours a day out hunting for the meteorites and because we will be there during Antarctica's summer it will be light all the time.

"Our findings, which can vary from day to day, will then be stored and taken to NASA in Houston and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington to be analysed. We'll be studying to find out the usual things like the age, origin and how planets may have been formed. Meteorites can also give us an insight into planetary volcanoes."

Dr Joy will spend a total of two months in Antarctica with a team of between eight and twelve international planetary scientists and will also celebrate the New Year on the continent.

In December she flies to Christchurch, New Zealand, where the team will pick up some special clothing to combat the cold before flying in a ski-equipped plane to McMurdo Station, the largest base on Antarctica.

The meteorologist will return to Manchester University, where she works as a researcher, at the end of January while other scientists compile the expedition's findings.

She said: "I will spend a total of six weeks out camping with the team, which is more luxurious than it sounds, certainly more so than Scott and Shackleton experienced.

"We have power and food supplies.

"One of the positives is that I get to eat a lot of chocolate as we burn so many calories throughout the day.

"The team will spend Christmas Day exchanging presents with each other and last time I was on the trip I spent New Year's Eve watching a midnight sun, which was one the best memories I have."

To follow the expedition visit the team's blog

Source: http://www.thisissussex.co.uk

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