The logistics mission - Antarctica's hidden world
The logistics Mission — making the science happen
Years of planning and intense co-operation between national Antarctic operators are required to mount the hugely ambitious scientific expedition. Fuel, food, tents, weather havens, equipment and other supplies at two deep-field camps, known as AGAP North and AGAP South will ensure that the science teams can work safely and effectively in the sub-zero temperatures.
Two strands of scientific operation, utilising several aircraft conducting between 80 and 100 survey flights, are required to build the picture of what lies beneath the ice:
- The aerogeophysics teams, (GAMBIT) led by Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) and British Antarctic Survey scientists involves two survey aircraft.
- The seismic team, (GAMSEIS) led by the Washington University and Penn State scientists, will use a US Antarctic Programme utility Twin Otter to deploy and service 26 seismometers on the ice.
Preparing to go
Two science teams will carry out an aerogeophysical survey. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) — Australian Antarctic Division team will work from one of the deep-field camps known as AGAP-North. The US-German science team will work from AGAP-South.
Preparations are complex. On 13th October BAS Field GA Catrin Thomas departed from Hobart with Australian colleagues sailing to the Australian Davis Station on the coast of East Antarctica.
On 1 November 2008, Fausto Ferraccioli, Hugh Corr, Tom Jordan and Carl Robinson leave UK bound for New Zealand for onward transfer to the US McMurdo Station. A few days later pilots Doug Cochrane & Ian Potten fly the science survey Twin Otter FBL from BAS Rothera Research Station to McMurdo with engineer Kyle Hegedus. Both science teams will meet and begin field season preparations. Five days are allocated for cargo retrieval and snow school training. The science survey aircraft will undergo testing and installation. Fourteen days are allocated for equipping the aircraft for survey. Then it’s on to the US Amundsen-Scott Station at South Pole to begin acclimatization before doing deep-field.
Meanwhile in mid-November BAS chief Pilot Alan Meredith and engineer Jamie Neggars leave BAS Rothera in support Twin Otter FAZ bound for the Australian Davis Station. Together with Catrin and Australian colleagues they load cargo and depart for AGAP-North to set up the camp in preparation for the science team’s arrival. An AWI German National Program Basler aircraft will assist in setting up camp.
At the end of the season
An essential requirement of the Antarctic Treaty is that science field camps are decommissioned, and all waste removed, at the end of the surveys. The Chinese science team as part of their 2008 traverse from their Zhongshan station on the East coast of Antarctica will collect and remove the empty drums and packaging and padding from the fuel drops.