Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Weds., July 30: Lower Base Camp Rover test a success!

Stay tuned for LOTS of video on a successful rover test by American, Canadian and Inuit teachers.  Additionally we have much video from Gypsum Springs, a permafrost sampling site, and from the air that shows great views of Axel Heiberg Island and the two base camps.   

Science Activity Update: July 29-31

Tuesday 29 July 2008
Today we meet with the group from the lower camp to do a seismic study of the Gypsum Springs area. A string of geophones were placed on the ground and then a seismic disturbance was generated by hitting a target with a sledge hammer. The geophones pick up the sound wave as it bounces around in the ground. From this we hope to be able to learn something about the subsurface structure of the springs.

We also dug a soil pit to the ice-cemented layer to sample bacteria living there.  We will compare them with bacteria living in this zone in Antarctica.  We chose a site at N79.40451 W90.78466 elevation 116 m. The site is along the ATV path connecting the upper and lower camps. Depth to permafrost was 72 cm.

Planning ahead

Wednesday 30 July 2008
In the morning we plan to do to the lower camp and test the Max 5R rover. If possible we will also hike to the Colour Peak Springs.

Thursday 31 July 2008
Going to another relic springs site, revisiting the relic spring site we visited on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 30 rover test, Lower Base Camp

Our NASA team hiked down to Lower Base Camp this morning to uncrate, and test, our Carnegie Mellon University rover.  Teachers are driving it "blind" as we speak, that is, they can't see the rover.  They drive it by watching a laptop wirelessly connected to the rover's dual lens camera.  It makes the rover look like Wall-E.  Teachers did troubleshooting and got the rover up and running.  Future steps for the Spaceward Bound rovers include having teachers drive the rovers ahead of them, out of their sight, into areas to explore.  For example, an ice cave may be too dangerous for a human to enter.  The rover can enter instead  

Tuesday, July 29: Seismic mapping at Gypsum Springs

Sean, a high school teacher from Sacred Heart School in Stittsville, Canada, calibrates a seismometer yesterday, as the CSA crew collects initial seismic data in a quest to learn what geology underlies Gypsum Springs' outlets.  We hope this will help us understand why different spring outlets have widely differing water temperatures even though there are only a few feet away from each other.

Monday, July 28 rendezvous with Canadian Space Agency Team at Gypsum Springs

The NASA portion of the Spaceward Bound Arctic 2008 team hiked from Upper Base Camp
to Gypsum Springs where we met our Canadian Space Agency (CSA) colleagues and received briefings on the microbiology, mineralogy and underlying geology of the springs area.  These springs are of great interest to Chris McKay because different spring outlets, just a few meters apart (a meter is about equal to 3 feet), have temperature differences of up to 5 or 6 degrees C.  Why should springs so close together have such drastic temperature differences?  Of great interest is what the rocks underneath the springs are like.  So, after recording the temperatures of the various spring outlets, 

and mapping their latitudes and longitudes with GPS, we are excited to find out our CSA friends will deploy a seismometer in an attempt to "see" below the ground.  They will analyze this data when we all return from the Arctic, and help Chris try to determine if different below-ground structures help direct the springs in such a way as to explain why the water temperatures are so very different even though the springs water outlets are so very close together.  It's as if we'll have x-ray vision to see what is beneath the springs!

Upper Base Camp cooking hut

Naomi and Elijah are extremely kind folks, and teachers, from Pond Inlet, Baffin Island, Nunavut Territory, Canada. They are valuable members of the Spaceward Bound team.  They teach us much about their Inuit heritage, and brew us treats like heather tea prepared over an open fire of heather!  Here they are, pictured outside our cooking hut at the Upper Base Camp.  All our teachers are forming the professional relationships, and friendships, that Spaceward Bound so uniquely enables.  It improves our teaching, helps students, and gives all of us educators the enhanced ability to develop curriculum to share in the coming school year with teachers and students on the Web via Spaceward Bound 2.0, the newest iteration of Spaceward Bound that seeks to give the Spaceward Bound experience to thousands of teachers and students.