Tintin at the South Pole - The come back in Brussels... not for long

News ~ Thursday 22nd December 2016

The last feedback from the South Pole

Special thanks to Gwenhael and his nice IceCube team for all the beautiful news we got.

The South Pole is one of the most extreme places on Earth. Located in the middle of Antarctica, the South Pole has limited satellite connection, i.e. limited internet and phone access, only few planes coming in per week between October and February (and no plane during the rest of the year) and an annual average temperature of about -50C.

However, as if it wanted to compensate, the South Pole has many hidden treasures.

The most obvious one is of course the nature… The polar landscapes, together with the cold air and the brightness of the sky, are purely breathtaking. The snow is so dry here that one cannot make a snowball, but gets to see the ice crystal growing, emerging out of the ground. The South Pole has also the honor to have the purest air on Earth in the clean sector where any air contamination is forbidden (e.g. one cannot prepare pop-corn in this sector).The geographic South Pole is another one of them: no matter the direction you take to leave it, you will always walk to the North.

The people that this "End of the World” hosts every year are another amazing treasure. This small community of 150 people during the summer and 40 during the winter has amazing characters.

Scout and Sally, for example, both proud members of the kitchen crew: They have been working during the summer on the Antarctic coast, followed by a winter and they now work at the South Pole until end of February, calling Antarctica home.

Martin, our IceCube teamworker and PhD student at Aachen University: He models the ice of the South Pole and is currently fixing a mini-telescope located on the roof of the IceCube Laboratory. He is the best travel partner we could dream of! Thanks Martin!

Nancy, manager: she spends every austral summer in Antarctica since 1991. No one can count the numbers of stories she has about the cold continent, she even knows when penguins will show up on the coast.

Donald Fortescue, Australian-American artist creating instruments at the border of art and science: he has been welcomed by the National Science Foundation for a 2-week-residency at the South Pole. These past days, he recorded sounds, images and videos of his instruments deployed for the first time in Antarctica.

...and many others, every one with his/her own incredible story. Some of these people will leave in a few weeks, the others will stay for the whole winter, to maintain the experiments. For the beauty of Science.

The South Pole is one-of-a-kind location, where everyone measures the privilege he/she has to be here. We are glad we got the opportunity to visit this extraordinary place. However, our mission is now accomplished. The snow sensor above IceCube has been successfully installed. Gwen will stay a few more days to fix the last details while Tintin will be flying towards new amazing adventures, going back home before moving to Moscow. Thank you, South Pole!

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