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NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Report: The Mystery Man - 13 August 2006

Status Report From: AMASE 2006
Posted: Wednesday, August 30, 2006

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Sunday

Wow. Today was a helicopter day. Steelie (our fearless leader more formally known as Andrew Steele) finds them extremely stressful. For those of us who don’t have to worry as much about logistics, these days are sweet! This day in particular was one I will remember for the rest of my life.

We started in the morning by assembling for the traditional AMASE “Men in Black” photo. The official moto of AMASE is “Bringing the Search for Life Down to Earth”. As a group of astrobiologists searching for biosignatures in the arctic it seemed appropriate to take our only group photo dressed as down-to-business regulators of human and alien life from MIB. It is also an AMASE requirement to have a good sense of humor. This year, Hans Amundsen, the founder of AMASE was sadly unable to join us for the expedition. To still include him in the group photo someone had printed a life-size photo that we cut out and stood up like a giant paper doll.

Just as we were assembling on the helo deck for our photo the helicopter arrived from Longyearbyen for our day’s activities. The helicopter was bringing a new person, Tori Hoehler of Ames to join the expedition and would be taking three people, Paul, Ashley and Dave Bish back to fly home. After Tori got out of the helicopter we were all completely stunned as Hans himself stepped out right after. Apparently the Norwegians knew he was coming, but had kept it a secret. There were many hugs, introductions and a general sense that now the expedition had finally started. Having never met him before, I had heard legendary stories about Hans; how he could carry six loaded packs at one time, carry all our heaviest instruments to the tops of volcanoes, etc. In his absence the man had become a legend. It was surreal to finally see him in person and I still haven’t gotten used to seeing him around the boat. We’re all looking forward to having Hans with us for the rest of the trip.

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.

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