This is the eighth entry in the Armed with Science series, Dispatches from Antarctica. The series features Air Force Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan’s first-hand experiences on OPERATION: DEEP FREEZE, the Defense Department’s support of National Science Foundation research in Antarctica.
4 October 2010: McMurdo Station, Antarctica – International Science Cooperation.
“Projet scientifique…” “S’il vous plaît répétez.” With any luck, I’ll post a video of the following encounter after we get subtitles added.
Sitting in the galley (a legacy name for the main dining room that harkens back to the days when the Navy was the dominant presence here), I notice an entire table of people speaking only French. While it’s not uncommon to have colleagues and visitors here from science agencies around the world, this is the first all-French table I’d seen.
Turns out these Francophone scientists and technicians are part of the international project known as Concordiasi. According to Cara Sucher, Manager of Laboratory Science at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, an international team of researchers led by the French space agency CNES (National Space Study Center) launched about 18 long-duration balloons near McMurdo Station to study atmospheric properties and stratospheric ozone.
These high-altitude balloons, capable of attaining, then maintaining, a level altitude, carried various instruments for scientific measurement of the atmosphere. As part of the international cooperation, scientists from the University of Wyoming and the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Earth Observing Laboratory in Boulder, CO, developed special instruments for the effort.
A part of our ongoing special discussion about international cooperation, Cara Sucher also provided the below photo showing an Australian Antarctic Division Airbus A319 offloading passengers as part of the first U.S. Antarctic Program main body flight to McMurdo on Sept. 23rd.