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Mr. Pastirik's Daily Log 14 November 2005

Hello everyone.

We left Christchurch, NZ early this morning (Nov. 14, 2005) by C-17 a huge
military jet transport. The flight took 5 hours. On the return to NZ, I
anticipate taking a C-130, a prop plane (8 hours). I am at about 80
degrees South latitude at McMurdo Station. We are in the same time zone
as New Zealand. From the air, we could see pack ice, and the pilot
allowed us into the cockpit to see the expanse of the continent before us.
It was quite an amazing sight. The Ross Sea was below us, in the
distance mountains were poking their summits through the snow and ice. We
landed on sea ice. In late December a supply ship will follow an ice
breaker to the same spot.

McMurdo is not a pretty place (but very functional), however the areas one
can see from the station are very beautiful. The rock here is basalt
indicating volcanic activity. In the distance, one can see Mt. Erebus.
It is an active volcano, and steam appears at its summit. Antarctica,
larger than Australia, sits upon one of the seven major tectonic plates.

Upon our arrival, we received an orientation to the base. Safety is a
prime concern here. I will be taking a driving course, and snow survival
school as I said before. Lots of younger folks here (mid-20s),
construction workers, lots of support personnel (cafeteria, maintenance,
etc.) some professors, and a teacher. The personnel at the base promote
us exploring the area by foot, possibly snowmobile, and skis! I hope to
do all three.

It is not very cold here (but still below 0 degrees Celsius) . However,
the weather can change rapidly. Light winds today, but they are not of
the fearsome Katabatic nature. On the plane trip over, we had to wear our
EWC (Extreme Weather Gear) gear. It is pleasant to be out of most of that
gear and into my own boots, etc.

Tonight at dinner, we will organize ourselves and our responsibilities.
Soon I will be posting to the ANTCI site. Last night at dinner it was a
treat to listen to the mission scientists discuss the expedition. They
were talking through procedures, etc. The scientists are very educated,
hard-working, dedicated people with the principal scientist being Dr. Doug
Davis. I will be sending you information about many of them, and I hope
to include pictures and some of their data too!


On the plane