On the research of the Antarctic.

airshipScientific researches in Antarctica linked to enormous difficulties not only because of the harsh climatic conditions on the mainland of the continent, but also because of the high cost of preparations for the expeditions. In turn, the high expedition’s costs depend on the inaccessibility of the Antarctic for the marine vessels and aircrafts. As a rule, only icebreakers can go to the Antarctic latitudes. The air traffic is even more difficult because of the extreme hardship building of landing strips on the ice-covered continent.

In this small article we would like to suggest some non-trivial approaches to solve traffic problems in Antarctica.
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Memorandum by the Secretariat of External Relations of the Republic of Sunland.

Coat of arms of Sunland (small)Immediately after the issuance of the Declaration of Sovereignty, the Republic of Sunland turned to a number of countries (Nepal, Lesotho, East Timor, etc.) with a request for official recognition. At the moment we have received an official response only from the Principality of Sealand. In particular the message reads as follows:

“We note your initiative with interest but unfortunately cannot entertain relations with movements which contradict international law; you mention correctly the legally established status of the land you are intending to appropriate from Norway without negotiation.

We would be pleased to consider further your proposals once you can produce secession documents endorsed by the Norwegian government”.

In this regard, the Secretariat of External Relations of the Republic of Sunland is authorized to say the following.

We fully and unconditionally recognize the Antarctic Treaty 1959 as an international legal foundation, which governs the status of the continent. Under this Treaty, Norway has the right to set up its territorial claims to sovereignty in Antarctica. However, the other countries have exactly the same right. Under the Treaty, no Norwegian acts or activities create any rights of sovereignty on the Peter I Island. Accordingly, from the standpoint of the Antarctic Treaty, the basis for possible negotiations between the Republic of Sunland and Norwegian government may be the recognition of Sunland's claim to Peter I Island. For our part, we are ready for such talks and we will welcome the good will of the Norwegian negotiator.

We hope that the Norwegian Government respects the Antarctic Treaty as we do and recognizes the freedom of scientific research in Antarctica and international cooperation for these purposes. For our part, in full accordance with Article III of the Treaty, we are ready to make an information exchange with Norway regarding plans for scientific research expedition to the Peter I Island and ensure free access to data and results of scientific observations.

In our opinion, the use of the terms "appropriation" and "secession" is not quite correct from the standpoint of international law since it assumes the recognition of full Norwegian sovereignty on Peter I Island. That is obviously contrary to the Antarctic Treaty.


The Secretariat of External Relations of the Republic of Sunland

Sunland Antarctic expedition (Draft).

Sunland flagPeter I Island usually considered as difficult of access. This is mainly due to the difficulties of landing on the island as approaches to it barred by the sludge ice. In addition, the lack of convenient bays and precipitous banks almost throughout the coastline do not allow a large ship to drop anchor directly by the island. That is why it was thought until now that the best opportunity to land on the island was using helicopter from the main deck of the ship.

But we have another variant. For the landing on the island we can use a small hovercraft. Internal combustion engine sets the hovercraft's screw in motion. The screw pushes air under the bottom of the vessel and thus forms the so-called air cushion. Hovercraft can run on the water and on land, on marshes, on sand, on the ice and ice sludge and on the snow. Christy Hovercraft 6132L produced by Christy Hovercraft (Russia) has the following technical characteristics:

Payload - 6 persons, 600 kg
Speed - 60-100 km /h on ice, -50-85 km /h packed snow
Limiting conditions - wind 10-15 m /s, temperature from -30 ° C to +40 ° C,

Hovercraft PIONEER MK3 produced by Airlift Hovercraft (Australia) has even more powerful parameters. But Christy Hovercraft would be quite suitable for our purposes. It costs only $ 62 500 while PIONEER MK3 price is about $ 965 000. Christy Hovercraft occupies one 20-foot container and can be easily transported on a ship.

Thus, we have to transport to Antarctica at least two 20-foot containers (one hovercraft and equipment of the expedition camp). According to preliminary calculations, the number of participants must be at least 10 people.

The expedition’s terms. Given the weather conditions the expedition should be organized in the summer in the Southern Hemisphere (i.e. December-March). Of course, we will do our best but it seems problematic to organize such a complex expedition in two to three months. Therefore, a more realistic launch date of the expedition is December 2010.

The main question is not how to land on the island. It is not even the issue of possible opposition from the Norwegian authorities. The main issue is financial one. According to preliminary calculations, the expedition takes minimal budget which amounts to $ 100 000. Exchequer of the Republic is currently empty. It is difficult to estimate at the moment, how much money the scheduled revenues will bring to the budget of The Republic of Sunland. But we have now at least four variants for funding the expedition. This work has already begun. All who really wants to participate in the preparations to the expedition (even if he/she does not want for some reasons to take a direct part in the expedition itself) may receive relevant information from us. There is a great and responsible cause in front of us and we gladly invite all true men and women to participate in this cause to the extent of their forces and abilities.

The Headquarters of the Sunland Antarctic expedition.
Happy Star

The aftermath of supernovae... in Antarctica

This is a cross post from my own journal. I though a few people in this community might find it interesting!

It's pretty amazing, all the things that get caught up in the Antarctic ice. It's a prime hunting ground for meteorites, for one thing. The infamous ALH 84001 with its supposed martian microfossils was found in Antarctica. As was the tiny MM04, a rock which is probably older than planet Earth! But it's not just rocks that get trapped in the Antarctic ice. Supernovae that lit up the night sky a thousand years ago have also left their marks.

Quite recently, a group of Japanese scientists spent some time in Antarctica looking for evidence of past supernovae. Specifically, supernovae which were seen in the years 1006 and 1054 (the latter of which caused the famous Crab Nebula). Both of these supernovae were recorded by astronomers at the time across the globe (particularly the Japanese, Chinese, European and Arabic astronomers). The team took ice core samples, and found large amounts of nitrogen oxides at times corresponding to 1006 and 1054. Curiously, there was another spike a while after 1054, the cause of which is still a mystery! If there was a third supernova that century, for some reason, no records of it exist.

A nearby supernova leaves its mark on Earth by drastically altering the atmosphere. A blast of gamma rays hitting the upper atmosphere will hit molecules of nitrogen and oxygen and rip them to shreds. Those fragmented molecules will then rapidly react, forming nitrogen oxides. The same thing happens in lightning bolts and even sunlight causes some nitrogen oxide to form, but only light from a supernova could cause such huge amounts all at once. This is the first time evidence of past supernovae has been found in an ice core!

As well as the supernovae, the researchers got quite a haul of data -- including finding increased levels of sulfate corresponding to volcanic eruptions across the globe, and a variation in background nitrogen oxide corresponding to the 11 year solar cycle.

It's really quite amazing what gets recorded in the Antarctic ice!

(click to embiggen)

Sources: arXiv blog, arXiv
Earth Worm Jim: Groovy

Back from the continent (12/5-12/16)

I could gush for hours, but summing it up, it was as a near perfect vacation as I could have ever hoped for: Once in the life time experiences chained back-to-back-to-back, amazing people met whom I will probably keep up with for the foreseable future, thousands of pictures, delicious new foods discovered, and gobs of stuff I'm forgetting.

So here's the first batch of pics. Professional Photographer Tor Johnson ( was on assignment on the trip to get photos for a stock house (Odyssey?) with a focus on sea kayaking. In exchange for model releases all 16 of us who managed to get the kayaking slots got copies his pictures.

I'm in the blue dry suit with red life vest and black wool hat. My brother is in the red dry suit with blue life vest and grey fleece hat. In some pics we are in a yellow tandem. Yellow again when we were in singles.

In total we did 3 of the 4 possible kayaking excursions. A fifth was canceled for weather (40 knot winds). We skipped one to do the first beach landing. More details and pictures (15 gigs of stills and video) to come including the travelogue my brother kept.

arctic clothes?

I'm going to be going to Alaska this winter, including Barrow, way up above the Arctic Circle, the northernmost community in the USA.  I know it's not Antarctica (duh) but I don't see a similar Arctic community like this one on LJ.  So since they're both similar polar regions, I thought I would ask...

What sort of clothes do I need?  Can anyone give me some specific recommendations of American or Canadian suppliers?   I'll only be in Alaska for 6 weeks, and I won't be doing much outdoor activity.  But I don't know what I need, and what I can get away with in terms of "normal" winter clothes.  I'm sure I'll need to buy some boots though, as my current winter boots are quite minimal.  Do I need special over-trousers too?  A special coat?

I'm scared!  Excited and scared!