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Eric Muhs's picture

Hello! Eric Muhs, checking in with a first journal entry.

Well, I'm headed to the South Pole! Again, actually... I was lucky enough to go once before, way back in 2002, under the umbrella of TEA, PolarTREC's predecessor program at the National Science Foundation.

I expect a lot has changed, and you'll no doubt get some commentary from me about those changes. For example, when I was there, the dome of the second generation station was in its last season of use, and the new (and now current) station was under construction, although I never set foot in it. At the time, we were just finishing building AMANDA (Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array), a proof of concept and technique neutrino detector that would pave the way for the IceCube detector which began construction a few years later.

I'll be posting some of my old photos, and may even reactivate my old day-to-day blogs. But meanwhile, here's a link to a YouTube playlist of my 2002 Antarctica videos.

So, why me? The very short answer... I was available. :) The PolarTREC educator slotted to go ran into some health problems, and had to postpone for a year. I just retired from teaching full-time in June, so I'm relatively unbooked (although I've been very busy – more on that later). I know at least some of the ropes, and can get up to speed pretty quickly. I'm also a pretty good photographer and writer (although in 2002, we were happy to have a 3 megapixel camera).

And, since before I went the first time, I've stayed involved in IceCube, particularly in our education & outreach efforts. We've run classes for teachers, and, about a decade ago, started running the science component of an Upward Bound residential program at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, working with underrepresented students from St. Paul. We've worked with a lot of pre-service, new, and experienced teachers, and developed all kinds of activities and curriculum for teaching about IceCube, astrophysics, and multi-disciplinary polar science. Here's a nice video made by PolarTREC teacher Kate Miller about our project the summer before last:
https://knowlesteachers.org/kaleidoscope/sew-engineering-fashion-classro...

More soon.

Your science friend :)

Eric Muhs

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Mike Penn's picture

Mike Penn said:

We're glad to have you on the PolarTREC team! It looks like you are more than qualified and already up to speed! I hope to find you on the Ice in December.
Anna Morris's picture

Anna Morris said:

Hi, Sorry to bother you, I am hoping as a teacher that you may be able to help us. My 12 year old daughter Nicole is working on a school project looking at what it is really like to live at the South pole and how it compares to her life in the UK. She has done a lot of research online and we have visited the Scott Polar museum in the UK but it would really enhance her research if she could ask a few questions to someone who has actually lived there and include the answers in her project. I would be very grateful if you would be able to help with this? I understand if you are a bit too busy, no problem but if you are able to help that would be amazing. Her questions are:- What is the temperature range inside the station? How often do you need to go outside? I have read that food is frozen and shipped in once a year and there are not many fresh vegetables. What other foods are scarce or is there a large variety of meals? Are drinks frozen too, are you able to have milk and juice etc? Are liquid toiletries available such as shower gel, shampoo and toothpaste, or do they become frozen on transit there? In my everyday life I obviously regularly see cars buses etc, do you have any land vehicles there? Do you see many animals and can you get close to them? Apart from people (friends and family), what thing do you miss most when you are at Antarctica? Thank you for taking the time to read this and thanks in advance for any reply. Anna and Nicole
Joed Polly's picture

Joed Polly replied:

Hi Anna and Nicole, Unfortunately, Eric was not able to go to the South Pole this season. But you should check out Lesley Anderson and Kate Miller's journals, and ask them these same questions (and some questions you'll likely find answers to by first reading their journals). Lesley was at the South Pole in January of 2018, and Kate was there about a year prior. Lesley Anderson's journals: https://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/icecube-and-the-askaryan-radio-array/journals Kate Miller's journals: https://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/ice-cube-neutrino-observatory-2016/journals