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AMASE Blog entry for Aug 3, 2009

Status Report From: AMASE 2009
Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2009

image by Adrienne Kish

Ticket desk...security checkpoint...remove laptop, shoes, liquids...find gate...kill time until boarding call...board plane...try to sleep, watch bits of movies, eat...land...deplane... Ticket desk...security checkpoint...remove laptop, shoes, liquids...find gate...kill time until boarding call...board plane...try to sleep, watch bits of movies, eat...land...deplane... Ticket desk...security checkpoint...remove laptop, shoes, liquids...find gate...kill time until boarding call...board plane...try to sleep, watch bits of movies, eat...land...deplane...Welcome to the start of AMASE!

After 36hrs or more of flying and all the jetlag, the first view of Svalbard does not disappoint. Such a stark beauty with dramatic geology rising out of the ocean bearing floating chunks of ice reminding you that you've officially left the August heat and humidity a long ways closer to the equator back home. The AMASErs rallied together in Longyear on the island of Svalbard from all over the globe and collectively tried to get our bearings through the mental fog of jetlag in the land of the midnight sun. There is nothing quite like wandering around the townsite and wondering why you are tired in broad daylight and then realizing it's 2AM.

A group of us including our fearless expedition leaders, the Mars rover crew from NASA JPL, members of the Slice team from NASA Goddard, the Life Marker Chip team from NASA Marshall and Charles River Laboratories, and scientists from the Carnegie Institution of Washington all moved north to NyAlesund to the northernmost permanently inhabited research outpost on Earth to be joined later by the rest of the AMASErs arriving on the research vessel Lance. The view of glaciers flowing down mountains on all sides and rock meeting water with blue ice floating past makes every documentary film scene you've ever seen of the artic pale in comparison to the real deal. You're left with a sense of being so small in relation to the hugeness of the world around you.

We are going to be busy unpacking and checking out the status of our instruments after the rigors of so many transfers through cargo holds in anticipation of getting to sink our teeth into the very Mars-like environment around us (of course only the geologists will literally bite into the rocks, or at least lick them...a phenomenon that will never make sense to the microbiologist!). The scenery is breathtaking, the scientists are ready, (most) of the equipment and personal gear has arrived, and we are ready to start racking up the science. Let AMASE 2009 begin!

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