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Mr. Pastirik's Daily Log 12 November 2005

Hello all.

I am in Christchurch, NZ. It was a 19.5 hour flight at 550 mi/hr. I
crossed the Tropic of Cancer, Equator, Tropic of Capricorn and the
International Date Line. I lost Friday, November 11, 2005! The sunset
across the US was beautiful, and the colors were red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, indigo, and violet. The sunset lasted a long time because
were flying towards it!

The flight out of Los Angeles was on a 747. It was very crowded, and the
man in front of me threw up. Yuck.

The people of New Zealand are great. It is a beautiful, clean, and
orderly country. Captain Cook dound the islands on one of his three
scientific expeditions. I think he as the greatest explorer of all time.
The indiginous (native) people are called Maori. New Zealand became a
British colony. I am staying in a Bed and Breakfast (Devon) on the River
Avon named for the Bard Shakespeare. Today we got our Antarcic gear.
There was a lot of it. The boots are called bunny boots! Tomorrow at 5AM
we leave on a C-17 for McMurdo station. McMurdo is the closest a ship can
get to the South pole during its summer. Yearly, the ice sheet doubles
the size of the continent, and an ice breaker leads the supply ship in to
port. The sea it crosses is the Ross Sea. The icebergs that calve off the
glaciers (rivers of ice!), are said to be huge. I can't wait to see them.
Not much large land life on the continent except for penguins. The
surrounding sea is rich with life including seals, whales, krill, and
plankton.
There are fossils found on Antarctica because it was once farther notrh
and part of a super contintent called Gondwanaland (named after a place in
India) that also included Africa, South America, India, Australia, and New
Zealand! It split up in a process called Plate Tectonics.

I have met many scientists representing people from all over the world.
These women and men are helping us all understand our planet and working
to improve it for all. The astronomers I met are looking for clues that
will help explain how the big bang that started our univers produced
galaxies. The are studying images produced by microwaves and testing a
theory called the Inflationary expansion of the universe. Pretty neat.
Our group, ANTCI, is studying atmospheric gases specifically those
containg nitrogen (NO, N2O, and NO2). These gases affect alot of the
chemistry found in our atmosphere.

A few facts. Antarctica is the coldest, driest (four inches of snow a
year only), and windiest ciontinent on earth. 97% of the continent is
covered by ice or snow averaging 2.5 miles deep. The strong winds on the
continent are called Katabatic winds.

I hope to get to the pole, and ride in the small prop plane called the
Twin Otter. The Twin Otter is the plane where most of the instrumentation
for the expedition is found. The weight requirements are very tight. I
will also drive people around so I have to take a driving course, and to
get into the Twin Otter I will need to spend a night in a handmade shelter
I build in Snow Survival School.

It is "summer" in Antarctica, so the sun will be up nearly all the time.
I found out that ice cream sundaes are available at midnight for free!

I trust you all are well. I miss you. Take care of one another.
mp

The last warm place!