Status Report

NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Report: Moving On – 16 August 2006

By SpaceRef Editor
August 30, 2006
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NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Report: Moving On – 16 August 2006


Today was our last day in Bockfjorden. I was able to hike out to Troll Springs with the biogeochemists Marilyn and Jen and safey guys Ivar and Henrik. Troll Springs are at the south end of Bockfjorden in a protected park region tucked in amongst several huge moraines. The springs follow a fault that runs north/south down the middle of Bockfjorden separately the Devonian Redbeds in the east from the one million year old volcanics and glaciers on the west. We had to cross a very large sandy, braided riverbed to get to Troll springs and several of us were temporarily stuck in quicksand a few times. Luckily, everyone retained his and her shoes.

Troll Springs is a quite extensive collection of active pools teeming with life and extinct carbonate terraces. The terraces are 2-6 meters across and you can clearly see how the spring water once poured down the hillside from one basin into another. We were there to see what kinds of life are growing in and around the pools. There was also a fox den just below one of the terraces. Unfortunately no artic foxes were in sight, but we took several samples of the soil around the den. Marilyn is studying the isotope distribution in order to determine what the foxes have been eating and what their prey has been eating. It’s a neat way study the food chain in an ecosystem.

The walk out to Troll Springs had taken several hours and after spending another few hours at Troll our party was late returning to the ship. Today was another helicopter day and as it happened, we were able to get a lift back to the ship! This helicopter was much smaller than the previous one we’ve had and was much more agile. The pilots made full use of this and dove and swooped through the fjord on our way back to the ship. Yikes, was it exciting!! We were even weightless for a few moments as we flew nearly straight down and had fabulous views of the glaciers, Sverrefjell and Devonian Redbeds. What an exhilarating way to end our time in Bockfjorden.

After five days in Bockfjorden, I’m sad to leave because it is an absolutely beautiful site where we have been able to start a lot of interesting studies. Change inevitably comes, however, and I am also looking forward to our next site: Murchison Fjord.

On the way to Murchison Fjord, we will be making a special stop where a beached whale has been observed. The whale has apparently attracted seventeen polar bears. It will probably be somewhat messy, but a great chance to see both a whale and polar bears. Another fascinating sight that I could only see here in the arctic! We won’t be arriving until 3am, however, so although the sky will still be light, I hope my eyes will be able to focus through their exhaustion.

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.