Status Report

NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Report: Getting There – 4 August 2006

By SpaceRef Editor
August 7, 2006
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NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Report: Getting There – 4 August 2006


I left for the arctic on Thursday and spent a night and a morning flying from Dulles through Munich to Oslo. In Oslo I had an eight-hour layover between my flights and so made my way by train to downtown. The airport is a good distance from the city and the train windows revealed surprisingly vivid rolling hills, pine forests and farmhouses on the way into town. The city is lovely. It is a mix of modern Scandinavian-style clean lines, and older elegant French-style buildings. I don’t know if they really are French. I haven’t taken an architecture class in my life. But I felt very comfortable in the metropolis that was filled with culture but not too packed with people. I walked freely about in the hot sunshine without bumping into people or feeling like an ant. I wandered from the main train station down past the construction site of the new opera house… strangely similar to the famous Sydney opera house in its harbor-side location. I meandered up to an old Fort built on a hill along the harbor. The walls were high and made accessible from the inside by a path up the hill. The lack of guardrails, danger signs and absurdly blatant safety regulations reminded me I was no longer in the US. There were even several small children playing along the edge a ways down but they seemed to sense where it was safe to be and where it wasn’t.

I stopped for a quick bite to eat at a deli. I kicked myself for not remembering any of the Norwegian I had taught myself from CDs I’d borrowed from the Melbourne library last fall. I couldn’t think of the word for the number one or for sandwich, so I just pointed. The girl behind the counter promptly asked me in perfect British whether I wanted the curry chicken sandwich in a box or a bag and with or without the accompanying free orange juice. I mumbled a response and felt suitably embarrassed for not being able to get out any Norwegian despite her clear command of my language. Outside with my food I plopped down in a grassy mall surrounding a water fountain and shallow pool. I noticed four brown eyes staring at me from a cluster of shrubbery to my right. Never before have I seen a larger than life antlered deer and faun as bronze statues. I thought it would make more sense if they were reindeer, but they sure did look like deer.

Tired from my day of walking I returned to the airport with plenty of time to spare before my flight. I sat reading until a large group of AMASEers joined me at the gate departing for Longyearbyen, the biggest town in Svalbard. Seeing the others members of our expedition who had come from all over the world I began to get very excited. We started chatting busily about our journeys over –who had lost what where and we nearly ran down the walkway when we were allowed to board.

Kirsten Fristad
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

About Kirsten Fristad in her own words…

My name is Kirsten Fristad. I am a budding planetary scientist working in the highly talented Sample Analysis of Mars (SAM) Lab at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 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. Since starting at Goddard in May, I have been organizing the Goddard/SAM Team contribution to AMASE 2006. I will continue working in the SAM lab until fall 2007 when I will commence graduate studies in a yet to be decided location to pursue a PhD in planetary science.

Before starting at Goddard in May 2006, I worked and traveled around Australia, coached high school hurdlers, and pondered the mysteries of the universe. Aside from pondering, I love to laugh, dance, listen to music from the ’80s, and travel to remote locations. I’m really hoping I can make a career of this expedition thing.

SpaceRef staff editor.