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Kicking rocks

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the thirteenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA -- Last Saturday, we had a flurry of activity.

December 19, 2008 — Robin Bell

Almost calibrated

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the eleventh of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA (December 10) -- Flying over any town is an unusual request and McMurdo is not an exception.  When I asked if we could fly at 1,000 feet over town, I was greeted with skeptical looks.  McMurdo is nestled beneath a valley between Observation Hill and Hut Point.  The request sounded like a boondoggle.  I had to explain that to ensure the laser is correctly aligned with the aircraft frame, we have fly over pointed roofs.  Our Reigl laser is developed in Austria where there are ample pointed roofs for calibrating the instrument.  There are not many pointed roofs in Antarctica so flying over McMurdo seemed like the obvious answer.

December 17, 2008 — Robin Bell

A long weekend at the South Pole

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the thirteenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARTICA-- We are all strapped into our seats preparing for our last ride to the Willy Ice Runway when I have a momentary panic.

December 23, 2008 — Robin Bell

Heading home

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the 20th of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com's In-Depth Report on the "Future of the Poles." The entire camp let out a sigh when the last survey flight landed.  Together we had sent the plane t on 52 missions, a distance equivalent to flying twice around the globe.  The survey data now fills two large aluminum boxes that will be shipped back to the U.S.

February 4, 2009 — Robin Bell

Thanksgiving Day (in Antarctica) blizzard

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the fifth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA -- In the U.S.

December 1, 2008 — Robin Bell

Audacious Plans, Nasty Weather

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the ninth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles."   McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA--Sometimes I wonder why we were so audacious to plan a project that required decent spring weather in several places around the entire Antarctic continent.  Our weather delays are accumulating.  The first delay was when the British plane was pinned down by storms, first in Patagonia and then at Rothera on the Antarctic Peninsula.

December 9, 2008 — Robin Bell

Running into an invisible wall

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the twelfth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's In-Depth Report on the "Future of the Poles."   McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA--The British group had been acclimatizing at South Pole for three full days when it seemed we were ready to collect our first real line of data at the southern end of the survey area.

December 19, 2008 — Robin Bell

Skiway silence

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the nineteenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." AGAP SOUTH CAMP, ANTARCTICA--The camp skiway is a three-mile long strip of ice sheet that has been polished by the Tucker snow cat and outlined by black flags.

January 22, 2009 — Robin Bell

Moving the Chess Pieces

Editor's Note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the fourth of her updates on the effort as part of Scientific American.com 's In-depth Report on "The Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA--Ever since we first conceived of this project, the logistics have been complex.

December 1, 2008 — Robin Bell

Bookshelf science

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the sixth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's In-Depth Report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA—For a geologist, Antarctica can be a very frustrating continent.  Stepping off an aircraft onto the ice, one is greeted by a 12,000-foot smoking volcano on one side and a mountain range rising about 14,000 feet on the other.  This would appear to be a geologist's dream.  The problem is the ice.

December 2, 2008 — Robin Bell

Crackling pretzels

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the tenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's In-Depth Report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA—I expected to find a piece of machinery snapping away when I rounded the corner.

December 11, 2008 — Robin Bell

A shoveling scientific community

Editor's Note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the third of her updates on the effort as part of Scientific American.com's In-depth Report on "The Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA--The stereotype of a scientist is a solitary figure in a white lab coat manipulating chemicals alone late in the night.  Supporting this lone crusader for science are legions of others who work to make the laboratory function.

November 24, 2008 — Robin Bell

Suspended animation

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the eighteenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com's In-Depth Report on the "Future of the Poles."

AGAP SOUTH CAMP, ANTARCTICA—For much of the past two months, our collection of tents in the middle of East Antarctica has been buzzing with activity and nervous energy. 

At the peak of our work, four hot meals were served every day.

January 19, 2009 — Robin Bell

A picture is worth a thousand words

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the sixteenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's In-Depth Report on the "Future of the Poles."
AGAP SOUTH CAMP, ANTARCTICA—Since we first conceived this project, we have been acutely aware of the limited amount of time we would have in the field.  We wanted 35 days to complete the planned program.

January 6, 2009 — Robin Bell

A flight to a continent dressed in white

Editor's Note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the second of her updates on the effort as part of Scientific American.com 's In-Depth Report on "The Future of the Poles." CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND—The flight from the land of green to the land of white may be within our grasp today.  Everything seems to be working.  The van showed up at the allocated time.  The check in process went quickly.

November 21, 2008 — Robin Bell

Line by line

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the seventeenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." AGAP SOUTH CAMP, ANTARCTICA—Weather pinned us down most of the time between Christmas and New Year's Day.  Since the weather cleared, we have been trying to fly whenever we can.

January 15, 2009 — Robin Bell

Wiggles and bits--We have data!

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the seventh of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA--Thanksgiving weekend was long and gray.  All work stopped in the U.S.

December 3, 2008 — Robin Bell

Old bones and socks

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the eighth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's In-Depth Report on the "Future of the Poles." CAPE EVANS, ANTARCTICA—The first weekend we were here “on the ice,” we had an opportunity to travel up the coast about 18 miles.  The annual sea ice is six feet thick, and we would be transported on top of this in a giant orange vehicle with wheels five feet tall, called a Delta.

December 4, 2008 — Robin Bell

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