Status Report

NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Report (AMASE 2007): Collecting Samples

By SpaceRef Editor
August 26, 2007
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NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Report (AMASE 2007): Collecting Samples


I woke up in a panic this morning thinking I was still in DC an hour before my flight to Oslo with my bags still unpacked. Phew! I was relieved to wake up any find myself already here. Heh.

The weather here in Wahlenberg Fjord is still snowy, windy and cold. It looked like a clear beautiful day when I first woke up but now, an hour later, the clouds have moved in and I can hardly see the shore. Marilyn has asked me to go collect “green goo” samples (plants) that she spotted yesterday up a steep slope under a bird colony.

Our collection party was great company, consisting of me, Ivar, and Steve. A polar bear (the third one this year!) had been spotted on the shore earlier this morning so the collection party was kept small to increase defense against possible bears and move quickly around the steep slope. Our hike up was very slippery as snow continued to fall on the flat basalt and sandstone slope. Per Marilyn’s directions, we collected plant and soil samples in a transect across the gully below the bird colony. We had taken nearly all our samples when we realized that we had misgauged which gully was actually below the birds and discovered the next gully over was even greener. We had extra samples bags and so decided to continue along the slope collecting essentially twice as many samples. After the first gully we had stopped for hot tea and lunch sandwiches. During this time the snow stopped falling and the clouds began to clear. By the time we finished collecting and started hiking down the hill, the skies cleared and we had a gorgeous view over Wahlenberg Fjord; light dancing off snow covered mountains, glaciers and all.

After we returned to the ship, the Lance pulled up anchor and sailed to the other side of the fjord. We are meeting up with a group of geologists from the Polar Institute who have been camping on the shore for the last three weeks. Hans, Steelie, Torbj rn, and Ivar went over to greet them at their camp. The sun is out and it is warm and bright enough to wear sunglasses and blog from the deck. Only my fingers are starting to get a bit numb.

The four geologists came on board for a while and got a tour of the AMASE operations on Lance. They stayed for dinner and then returned to their camp. We were pretty surprised when they declined showers and an evening in the hot tub. Their hesitation didn’t stop us, however, as we crammed 21 people into our little tub and watched their little cluster of tents on shore through billows of steam.

About Kirsten Fristad in her own words…

Kirsten Fristad here again. I’m privileged and excited to be back writing Notes from the Field on AMASE 07. I am a planetary scientist working in the Sample Analysis on Mars (SAM) Lab at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland where I have been for the last year and a half. I graduated from Macalester College in 2005 with a major in geology and core in astronomy knowing I wanted to pursue a research career in planetary science. Through summer internships with several planetary scientists, I developed a background in analyzing martian and lunar planetary remote sensing data and Mars analog field work in Alaska. Over the last year I have continued to organize the Goddard/SAM Team contribution to AMASE, conducted organic analyses of AMASE samples, designed and built new field hardware and participated in two other expeditions in Utah and the Mojave.

Following AMASE 07, I will be staying on in Norway as a Fulbright Scholar to begin graduate work at the University of Oslo. I am very much looking forward to exploring more of this beautiful country, reconnecting with the country of my ancestors and filling up on pickled herring and lefse!

SpaceRef staff editor.