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Kevin Dickerson's picture

This photo should explain how our weather was today. It is amazing how the Antarctic weather can change from one day to another.

Back porch sittingBack porch sitting in the late evening sunshine listening to tunes. No wind, blue skies, and sunshine. Time to chill.

Location: McMurdo Science Station

Today was another lab day. We look for animals in the soil samples we collected in the Dry Valleys. We did the samples that were brought up from the bottom of Lake Bonney. It is fun to see both ends of this science, the collecting in the field, all the way through to the observing in the lab. Collecting out in the field is super cool, but it is also pretty awesome to see the animals under the microscope. There are a lot of animals out in those harsh valleys if you know where to look.

Today, I was on centrifuge. That is a machine that spins our samples really fast. All animals and sediments are pushed to the bottom of our tubes.

Loading CentrifugeLoading samples into the centrifuge. This will spin the animals and sediments to the bottom of the tube.

After spinning the animals to the bottom of the tube, we pour off the water on the top of the sample. We then add sugar water to the samples and stir. The animals will then float in the sugar solution making it easier to find.

Adding sugarPouring sugar water into the sample which holds the animals. Adding sugar makes the water "heavier" so the animals will float, since they are less dense.

After our lab work was done, we went down to visit the Polar Star, the Coast Guard icebreaker that just arrived yesterday. We got a great 2-hour tour of the ship. It was so interesting. I'm sure you'll enjoy this 10-minute video of our tour.

Ice PierThis pier/dock that you see the ship tied to is not land as it appears. It is a floating chunk of ice with dirt spread on top. It is the only floating ice dock in the world. So many cool things like this that I learn every day that only happen in Antarctica.

Byron, Matt, and myself will fly to another Dry Valley tomorrow. We will be sampling in Garwood Valley. I am excited to see another remote location here in Antarctica. Check tomorrow's report for how our day goes.

Please send me your questions or comments. kdickerson [at]


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michelle 's picture

michelle said:

why does sugar make the animals float to the top?
Kevin Dickerson's picture

Kevin Dickerson replied:

Hi Michelle. It is a density thing. The soil particles sink, while the animals float. It then is easier to skim off the sugar / animal solution and view the animals.