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Mr. Pastirik's Daily Log 21 November 2005

Monday; November 21, 2005

Up the hill and to the right, hidden behind construction lumber on a non-descript path is a bit of paradise at McMurdo Station. Paradise is warm lights, warm air, green plants and a hammock. All can be found in the McMurdo greenhouse. Building 147 is a great treat for the eye starving for more than the stark beauty of black rock and white ice at the base.

Upon entering the building, one is reminded to quickly close and slam the doors to prevent heat loss. A brief list of rules for the visitor, a sign-in sheet and the sweet smell of growing herbs and vegetables greets one just inside the foyer. Not a soul was present while I was there, but a quick look around clearly signals that the place is tended to regularly and loved by the caretaker. The greenhouse is actually two trailer sized buildings connected (not actually a double-wide), and contrary to temperate climate greenhouses, not glass enclosed, but the ceilings and walls are lined with reflective Mylar. Light from overhead sources reflect off the Mylar and bathe the plants in life-giving light from all directions. The peppers, cucumbers, parsley, lettuce, basil and other plants are grown hydroponically (without soil, but anchored in a mineral rich water pot). The plants were at all stages of development from seed to readily harvested fruit.

As I strolled the aisles between the growing plants, I savored the rich smells of the herbs and spices, and fought off the temptation to pick a pepper from the vine. I sat a few minutes in a chair provided by the caretaker, and drifted off imagining a spring season to come. On the way out, I promised myself a return visit and left my email address so I could be contacted to be a volunteer.

New Topic!

The test flights are over and ANTCI scientists took the Twin Otter up today to collect data. The plane took off at 12:30 and headed for the front edge of the mountains. Massive glaciers descend between the mountains from their source on the high plateau of Antarctica. Today, the front edge of these frozen rivers of ice was the place measurements were taken. Dr. Doug Davis, Saewung Kim, and Lee Mauldin were the on-flight crew. Their path took them to an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet above the glaciers. ANTCI scientists predicted that the chemical species NO would be greater at the leading edge of the glacier with the greater downflow. Initial results indicated this was true. Confidence level and excitement are high. Future flights will take the scientists up glaciers at heights only one hundred feet above their surface, and other flights will proceed to the high Antarctic Plateau.

Take care of one another! mp

Big plants in the greenhouse

Little plants in the greenhouse