December 26, 2011 Experiencing Antarctica Through PolarTREC Teachers, Ham Radio, and Lefse.
Yes, I'm a PolarTREC teacher, but because my project is delayed until 2012, I listen to the Live Events and read the journal entries just like everyone else in order to keep up with what's happening on the southern-most continent. I also occasionally enter questions and comments for the teams that are in the field now, including Michelle Brown's AGO (Space Weather) project. ( http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/space-weather-monitoring-on-the-ant... ) Why all this background? It's actually just a long introduction to what's going on simultaneously in Antarctica and Mooresville, North Carolina RIGHT NOW!
Everyone in the family has their amateur radio license (ham radio), My younger son, the electrical engineering student, is more serious than the rest of us and brought some of the radio equipment home from school for the Christmas holiday. On Christmas Day he heard Andy, an operator from the South Pole. Knowing that Michelle Brown was at the pole at the time and having seen in one of her journal entries that she'd QSO'd (talked) with people in Boston, I sent her a message that Nick was trying to get through. Unfortunately, he didn't have the right equipment at home to put out enough power to reach the pole, so the operator could not receive him. In the mean time, a number of messages went back and forth via email, Facebook, and PolarTREC Ask The Team entries. It all culminated a short time ago with a phone message to Nick from the number 1. No, it wasn't from Sesame Street! It was Michelle Brown calling via sat phone to tell Nick that the South Pole radio operator was back on if he could try again. He tried and still couldn't get through, but it was fun to have all of this neat interaction going on at once. Thank you Michelle and Andy!
So what does Lefse have to do with this? Actually (almost) nothing. Lefse is a Norwegian flat bread. Roald Amundsen, the first person to reach the South Pole was Norwegian. My older son (who is coincidentally starting a program in snow science at Montana State University) happened to be in the kitchen at home making Lefse while all of this was going on. Why he was making Lefse is another story in itself - lets just say he learned how to do that in Vancouver, Washington at Thanksgiving. It may be a stretch, but it's another of the connections between the 1911 South Pole Exploration by Amundsen and modern polar research 100 years after Amundsen.
Still don't buy it?! That's OK. It's still fun to be a part of such a great program and to see how it can affect people in so many ways. The best part is that it's available to everyone through the PolarTREC program and on-line resources - even without the Lefse!