When I agreed to go on a research cruise to Antarctica, I imagined flying into the charming port town of Punta Arenas, Chile, and boarding the well-equipped research vessel, the Nathanial B. Palmer. It turns out that the town is delightful and the ship impressive, but you don’t just stroll on to a research ship without days of preparation.
Scientists are required to have special skills – mine includes measuring ocean velocity – but we also need practical abilities. I spent most of yesterday in a warehouse, cutting lengths of PVC piping. I’ve also been searching the warehouse for boxes shipped here months ago, trying to find warm, comfortable work clothes.
We’ll spend five days in port. We’re not doing any science, but this unappreciated work behind the scenes is what allows our science to happen. You can follow the progress of the cruise on this blog and on my education blog, http://mstsea.blogspot.com/. You can also follow me on Twitter @Ms_T_at_Sea.