NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Report: The End - 20 August 2006

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



I stand at the window looking out over Sassenfjord. Our trip has come to an end. The sky is cool and the mountains around Longyearbyen are dark in comparison to the white glaciers in the distance. I am exhausted from the late nights and early mornings of the expedition, but am completely overcome by the beauty of this place.

By all accounts the expedition has been a success. We completed 55 GCMS runs in the field and collected nearly 50 samples for further analysis back at home. The cliff-bot rover was deployed 4 times and collected four samples using simulated Mars-mission procedures -equivalent to several weeks’ worth of rover operations if we had actually been on Mars. The 20 group samples we collected have been analyzed by all the science teams using methods including GCMS, XRD/XRF, Raman Spectroscopy, PCR, LAL assays, and probably several other methods that have completely escaped me. We are going to be very busy when we get home trying to write up all the work that has gone on here.

After unloading all our science and personal gear from the Lance by 6pm, we walked up to Husets for our last dinner together. Most of us are leaving on the 4:40am flight tonight and so have not bothered to reserve hotel rooms for the evening. I’m glad. I want to absorb as much of this place and the joyful company of my new friends as I can. A talkative dinner was followed by a few hours at the pub where we met up with the crew from Lance. There was much storytelling, laughter and reliving of memorable moments.

When several Maxi Taxis showed up at 3:10am to take us to the airport, it was hard to leave. Even the Lance crew asked us to stay another week… and we all would have accepted if we could. My stomach was in knots loading baggage and piling into the taxi. It could have been from lack of sleep, or not having breakfast, but I think it was mostly because I was so sad to go. There were many handshakes, hugs and promises to stay in touch and then we were off. I can’t wait until AMASE 07.

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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