Monday, August 4, 2008

Life in Gypsum Springs?

Is there life in Gypsum Springs? UNC biology undergrad, Zena Cardman, speaks about odd-looking colors downslope from one spring outlet at Gypsum Springs.

Last night on Axel Heiberg Island...thanks.

Thanks to Dr. Wayne Pollard, our host from McGill University, to Marie-Claude Williamson of the Canadian Space Agency, our Canadian and Inuit teaching colleagues, Sean, Genevieve, Naomi, and Elijah. To Tammy, teacher from Lake Placid N.Y., to Margarita and Zena, to Alberto, and finally to Chris, whom we all owe our deepest gratitude.

Hunting for relic spring to compare to Gypsum Springs

Chris McKay of NASA-ARC looks toward relic spring near White Glacier, Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut Territory, Canada. The relic spring is to be compared for similarity to the Gypsum Springs site.

The team hiked from M.A.R.S.Upper Base Camp to the terminal area of Thompson Glacier, then alongside a lateral moraine of White Glacier, which intersects Thompson Glacier. Heading to the relic spring site at N 79 degrees, 26.626 minutes, W 90 degrees, 42.129 minutes, involved a few rope pitches before the final jaunt to the relic site. This video clip shows Chris making the final rope ascent above White Glacier. In addition to being a top-notch NASA scientist, and a kind, giving human being, Chris is, apparently, quite the cool customer, as evidenced by the sounds he makes whilest climbing.

Caltech Ph.D candidate & UNC biology undergrad talk about studying Gypsum Springs

Margarita Marinova, Ph.D candidate from CalTech, and Zena Cardman, biology and poetry undergraduate from the University of North Carolina, speak to you from Gypsum Springs on an extremely windy day. The camera operator erred in choosing light exposure over protecting the microphone from the wind. His apologies to you. Still, this video gives a good feel for the springs' site, what it's like there, and why we study it.

How can springs flow year-round in the Arctic and why do springs just meters away from each other have different temperatures?

A snippet of a conversation on Saturday, July 26, 2008, between Dr. Wayne Pollard of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and Dr. Chris McKay of NASA Ames Research Center near Mountain View, California, USA discussing Gypsum Springs' different surface water temperatures. This was recorded minutes after the team arrived on the island.

A clue about Gypsum Springs, springs that flow year-round in the frigid Arctic

Gypsum Springs flow year-round, even though the average annual temperature there is around -15 degrees Celsius. That's puzzling. It turns out the chemicals in the water, specifically salts, help keep the water in a liquid state. Okay, but why then, when you measure a spring outlet's temperature, can you get different temperatures that are just a few meters apart, a stone's throw? And where does this water come from? What does it flow through? What happens on its voyage to the surface? Chris McKay, gives a clue in this video to some of the latter questions. Please excuse the poor audio quality the first 10 seconds.

Final Science Log Entry

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Today we made the 7 km hike to the lower camp with the Max 5R rover batteries and ancillary equipment. The rover is already at the lower camp. We spent most of the afternoon testing setting up the rover operations and testing the rover in the local environments. Everyone was able to easily use the rover due to the well designed and intuitive control system. The rover operated well over the rocky terrain. The main environmental challenge was the dust.

Thursday 31 July 2008

We hiked up again to the relic springs site, this time taking the valley route. No difficulties were encountered on this route. The teachers from the lower camp joined us by helicopter. We conducted extensive sampling at the site and surveying from the hill top to the edge of the White Glacier.

In the afternoon we dug another pit to the level of ice cemented groud (72 cm again) in and area of well developed patterned ground.

In the evening we decided to do a midnight hike to and on the terminus of the White Glacier and along the front of the Thompson Glacier. The midnight sun provided more than enough light despite the heavy clouds.

We concluded our hike at 2 AM and waited for the 3:30 AM total solar eclipse. Unfortunately the solid cloud cover did not let up and slight rain fell.

Friday 1 August 2008

Today was our first day with rain. We worked on documenting and packing our samples.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

5 AM we departed for the hike to the lower camp to catch the twin otter flight to Resolute and from there on to Ottawa.

M.A.R.S. landing, Axel Heiberg Island, High Arctic, Nunavut Territory, Canada

The last of the NASA/CSA/McGill University Spaceward Bound Arctic 2008 expedition team arrived home early Monday morning in San Francisco, after hiking 12 km at dawn Saturday from Upper Base Camp to Lower Base Camp and flying the first of seven flight segments over the weekend.

Here is the extended version (approximately 11 minutes) of our landing at the M.A.R.S. base back at the beginning of the research trip. We fly in over Expedition Fjord, the outflow from Thompson Glacier, then fly a reconnaissance over the Upper Base Camp landing field to check landing conditions, followed by the landing. The camera zooms in, on the shoreline of the Thompson's outflow, on Gypsum Springs, where much of our work centered.