Friday, April 16, 2010

Antarctica in the News: Shrimp and a new base

Shrimp found under Ross Ice Shelf

Just over a month ago, NASA found something in Antarctica that no one ever expected to find, two three inch shrimp under 600 feet of ice, 12.5 miles from open water. Scientists have always assumed that only microbial life could live under such harsh conditions. This calls that assumption into question and forces us to ask about what other complex life could exist in similar conditions throughout our solar system. One of the cooler parts about the discovery and article for me is that they feature quotes from a scientist that I've worked with in Antarctica. " Stacy Kim—one of the biologists in NASA's ice science team—says that they don't really have a clue about what is happening down there, but that it is highly improbable that these animals swam all the way from open water."

Terra Nova Bay (photo by C. Poirot)

A few weeks ago, South Korea announced that it will be building their second Antarctica research station at Terra Nova Bay. Their first, King Sejong Base, holds 17 researchers. The new station will hold 60 researchers and their support staff. Terra Nova Bay is located a few hundred miles from McMurdo and the existing Italian base there, Zucchelli Station, has sometimes served as a back up air field for the United States Antarctic Program. The new base will take a year to build, cost $88.4 million, and should be completed by 2014. Once complete, Korea will be only the ninth country to operate more than one base in Antarctica. Currently, they are twenty countries with stations on the continent.

Finally, a friend showed me this clip of Antarctica research to be . . .

Chinstrap penguin ping pong

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