AMASE student blog: Men In Black

Picture of the landscape taken from the boat
16 August 2007

Last night we executed the initiation ritual – so much fun! It was hilarious and everybody took everything in good fun. The 'oldies' had set up an 'idols' panel with Simon, Paula and Randy (the judges of the American Idols programme) and they commented on our limericks etc...

Apparently my limerick was very popular, it seemed to be the one that got the most applause (perhaps because I made the biggest fool of myself ;-) ) but also the other Danish guy, Claus got a good feedback and Hans’ son Torbjørn as well – it was… a great night! For those who know me, I promise you’ll get the details when I return to Denmark.

Today we finished the rover-experiment from yesterday, that is we got the downlink from sol 102 and planned sols 103, 104 and 105 and in a bit the human rover-team will go into the field and collect the data we’ve requested.

At the moment about a third of the expedition has gone up a glacier with the helicopter to collect the instruments they left there the other day and also to test the Spanish Raman-instrument on the glacier which can only be done by helicopter as the equipment is way too heavy to carry – it had to be lifted from the lab to helicopter by crane….

I’ve spent the last hour or so on the bridge talking to the first mate of the ship – it’s good practice some of these long conversations in Danish/Norwegian ;-) and the crew are incredibly friendly and helpful with everything and anything., and it’s fun listening to their stories about their time on board the ship and their impression of us, weird science-people and of Denmark etc. etc.

Collecting ice out of the water
Collecting ice out of the water

Today Garret Huntress (the IT-guy from Carnegie) was allowed (by Carnegie) to remain on ship for the rest of the expedition – personally this is a huge relief for me, cause it means he’ll be on board to help out with any software problems that may arise in relation to the sample database that I’m in charge of, and it gives us a bit more time to get the system up and running (of course that only means that my work is piling up until I can start registering samples.

At the end we didn’t get any more 'downlinks' from our human rover, but hopefully we’ll finish it tomorrow. After the helicopter brought everybody back from the glacier and left with the people leaving the boat, we set out for the Monaco glacier – a two hour trip – to collect ice for our drinks.

The glacier was… MAGNIFICENT! Absolutely the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen! (I just shipped off pictures this afternoon) The glacier ice is almost completely blue – and… it’s unbelievable! We made our way through the increasing amount of small icebergs and when we were close enough a small boat set out to collect a clean piece of ice – preferably a blue piece ;-)

The glacier experts on the expedition inform me that the ice that is right now in my glass is probably 20 000 years old (the time of the last glacier high). After retrieving the ice and spending hours watching the ice disappearing under the boat, listening to the crushing sound of sailing over a big iceberg, we were sent to shore to do our MIB (Men In Black) stunt (I should mention that it is FREEZING today and the wind is quite strong).

'Men in black'

The MIB stunt is a photo-session where we all dress up as 'Men In Black' (i.e., black suits, white shirt, black dresses, high heels and of course, black sunglasses). Personally I was told before leaving for the expedition to take the stunt seriously so I brought a small black dress (sleeveless, which I am very much regretting at the moment) and black high heels – not good for walking on sand and rocks by the way.

Anyway, we picked out a spot on the shore and took out the zodiac and went for it (I was in the first zodiac). As we were climbing out of the zodiac the people in the zodiac behind us started yelling and waving their arms – as it happened, a HUGE polar bear appeared less than 100 m from us from behind a rock.

We hurried back in the boat and went for another place to go ashore – fantastic experience (and again, I just sent back pictures this afternoon). This polar bear was more yellow in the fur than the one the other day. It appeared to dislike our presence and wandered away, up the hill.

After that exciting event, we went to shore further away, placing a sizable fjord between us and the bear, and did our photo-shoot – there was something very unrealistic about 20-30 people dressed as MIB (some of us in bare arms or legs – personally my feet are still frozen solid even though I was wearing stockings) with a huge glacier in the background looking very serious with riffles etc. in the freezing cold! But it was a lot of fun.

By now it’s almost 1:30 and my eyelids are getting heavy, so perhaps I’ll end it here. Sorry to say that the MIB pictures etc. will have to wait till after the 27th.

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