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:
Your science friend :)