The 2012-2013 SAMBA project is a great success. And the discovery of a 18 kg meteorite during this mission has quite naturally caught the attention of the press and the general public.
This meteorite is the biggest found in Antarctica since 1988, and it is one of the five biggest ones discovered in this continent, as mentioned by the International Polar Foundation press release, published yesterday. The mission achievements are also highlighted in this article.
As a bonus, we can enjoy an interview of Vinciane Debaille, member of the SAMBA – Planet TOPERS team, in the same website.
Congratulations to the SAMBA team!
Thanks for keeping us informed and for all the sacrifices done in the name of Science!
Philippe Claeys sent me the present video which really explained very well the importance of meteorites and of your work:
Meteorites: Hunting missiles from outer space
We wish you a warm return home and wait for the results!
Finally we are in Belgium!!! We arrived today in Brussels around 11AM, tired but happy after this wonderful experience! Those last few days in Cape Town were very relaxing, rediscovering liquid water (aka rain), insects and crowd. Meteorites are still well frozen and will be shipped soon to Japan. As this is the end of our adventure, we would like to thank a lot of people: the Belgian Science Policy for funding and in particular Maaike Vancauwenberghe, the International Polar Foundation (and more particularly Alain Hubert, Kristof Soete, Christophe Berclaz, David Rigotti, Erik Verhagen and Craig Masson) for the logistic support, help in installing the camp and on the field, our Japanese colleagues Naoya Imae, Akira Yamaguchi and Takachi Mikouchi, without forgetting the field guide Yukihisa Akada for this successful joint mission between Japan and Belgium, our VUB colleague Steven Goderis who could not stay physically with us (we missed you!!), but managed to translate our cryptic text messages into nice texts for the blog during our stay, our sponsors: Optisquare (optical shop in Lasnes), Essilor (for corrected glasses in our goggles), Ciba Vision (for contact lenses), and Maison Lecomte (alpinism shop in Brussels) for Harry’s clothing, Nadine Mattielli from ULB for her strong support, Véronique Dehant, our colleague of Royal Observatory of Belgium who set up this blog in the frame of the IUAP Planet Toppers, all the people at the Princess Elizabeth Station who made our stay pleasant and efficient, and our scientific colleagues who learnt us a lot about Antarctica, and last but not least, thanks to Philippe Claeys, for having made existing the SAMBA project, for our warm clothing and certainly for providing the satellite phones and minutes that allowed us to stay in touch with our family! Thanks to you all!
Thanks also to our families for having supported us during these 2 months (and 10 days), and finally thanks to all our readers, it was very nice to read your comments!
Now, the tedious lab work is going to start, but we will let you know our wonderful discoveries! See you soon!
Our flights to Novo air base and then CapeTown are planned tomorrow (Friday) morning and afternoon respectively. So normally, tomorrow, we should have a temperature difference of ~50° between the Nansen Ice Field and South Africa!!! That is going to be strange! ;o) Meteorites will travel frozen, and will be shipped to Japan so they can be defrozen under laboratory conditions. Just glad not being a meteorite and stay frozen that long! Our trip is slowly finishing, stay tuned for the final news…
That’s it, we are back from the Nansen Ice Field. We drove back yesterday afternoon (Saturday) from our second base camp. It was a pleasant ride of 4 hours and half, with a beautiful sun. The temperature was -27° when we left, with an increasing wind (it was the perfect timing for leaving actually, before the beginning a new snow storm!). As we had many technical problems with our ski-doos during the last week, because of the cold and the long snow storm, we were fearing troubles, but everything went well. We are now recovering from our stay. The IPF team is now on the plateau to pick up our containers and remove the snow dunes that formed during the storm. The previous post by Steven, as he was forwarding the news we were giving by satellite phone, was about the last meteorite, but actually, we found another one when driving back, thanks to the good eyes of Wendy. The number of recovered meteorites is now 424!!!! We are also very impressed by the total weight collected: 74 kg! This was a very successful mission, despite the weather conditions. The Nansen Ice Field can decently been called the white hell! We had absolute temperature as low as -32°, and with the wind chill effect, down to -45°. Pictures will arrive very soon, be patient! ;o).
The team wanted to let us know that the final search was finished on Wednesday. It was a very cold day (-30˚C) and only a single meteorite was found, but this brings the grand total to 423 meteorites! Alain Hubert and the Princess Elisabeth team will pick up the SAMBA members from the plateau tomorrow (Saturday February 02). Yesterday and today consisted of preparing the base camp for travel and, of course, packing up the meteorites.
The team is looking forward to go home, as the trip has been mentally and physically tough. But they can be very proud of themselves, what a successful adventure! And already some of the team members have scientific questions related to the recovered meteorites…
We’re going to welcome you guys with open arms, you did a fantastic job!
A big cheers from Belgium,
Another message (29/01) from the meteorite team on the plateau:
“Today was cloudy, but finally the wind slowed down. We found 46 meteorites, with one of 4 kg. This brings the total to 422 fragments so far! The equipment on the plateau is starting to degrade from the low temperatures, even the skidoo snow scooters. So cross your fingers for the last search days and also for good weather! Cheers.”
Let’s indeed cross our fingers for these final days and a safe return of the meteorite team!
News from SAMBA-Planet Topers : A short text message tonight. It took a while but the storm died out, they finally could get outside today and went back hunting for meteorites… and guess what they ran into a huge piece of chondrite, about 18 kg….
Who was claiming that you cannot really use Antarctic meteorites for exhibits because the public cannot see them well behind a glass window… ?
Well, this one will need a pretty large showcase ! However, they are also encountering lots of technical problems mainly because of the intense cold.
Let’s wish them luck.