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Real Time Astrobiology Expedition News That NASA Ignores

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
December 6, 2017
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Astrobiologist Dale Andersen Antarctic Status Report 6 December 2017: Traverse to Novolazarevskaya Station
“Dale Andersen sent this via inReach on December 6, 2017 2:47:47 AM EST “Heading back to Novo in an hour nice sunny day. I’m starting my traverse, follow along at my MapShare ” Dale sent this message from: Lat -71.332995 Lon 13.45293.”
Keith’s 10:48 am EST update: Dale and his traverse team have arrived at Novolazarevskaya Station. “December 6, 2017 10:48:39 AM EST “Now at novo all ok” (click on image to enlarge)
Keith’s 1:40 pm EST update: Just got a phone call from Dale:

Keith’s note: Dale Andersen and I have been reporting from remote polar and alpine regions for more than 20 years – Dale much more than I. Indeed, we think that we may well have had the first webserver in the U.S. directly updated from Antarctica back in 1997 – that website is still online here. When researchers go to remote locations to conduct NASA-funded research and engage in dangerous procedures (drilling though meters of ice and then diving underneath) in search of clues to what form of life could be possible on worlds such as Mars, you’d think that NASA would pay attention. I have been posting Dale’s reports almost daily for the past month. Speaking from personal experience reporting from Devon Island and Everest Base Camp it takes a lot of discipline and effort to send reports back to civilization – especially when your comms are limited such as they are at Lake Untersee, Antartica. Add in hurricane force winds and brutal temperatures and its not like texting from your iPhone. if you look at the webpages of NASA Science Mission Directorate, NASA Astrobiology, the NASA Astrobiology Institute and SETI Institute there is no mention of these daily reports that Dale diligently sends back from his tent in Antarctica. But I do post them here and on my website (which is ranked 3rd on Google search for “astrobiology”) so its not like he’s getting no visibility.
All too often NASA sponsors research where teams of actual explorers engage in dangerous activities to conduct astrobiology field research so as to further the whole #JourneyToMars thing and yet no one at NASA bothers to pay attention. This mindset is not just limited to Dale. Much of the field work like this never gets any mention. People would be amazed at the things that NASA never bothers to mention where it is involved directly and/or indirectly. But astronauts wearing funny t-shirts on ISS? That warrants a news story with video.
Dale is heading back to Novolazarevskaya Station (check his location live) and should be back in the States in time for Christmas. And there will be cool photos and other things I hope to post.
Earlier reports
29 November 2017: Blizzard Conditions
28 November 2017: Last Week at Lake Untersee
26 November 2017: Busy Days at Lake Untersee
23 November 2017: High Winds
22 November 2017: Nice Weather
20 November 2017: Preparing Diving Gear
19 November 2017: Bad Weather
15 November 2017: Deploying Instruments
14 November 2017: Setting Up Camp
11 November 2017: Arrival at Lake Untersee
8 November 2017: More Snow
5 November 2017: Buran!
4 November 2017: Traverse Preparations

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.

5 responses to “Real Time Astrobiology Expedition News That NASA Ignores”

  1. jsmjr says:

    Cool work by Dale and good of you to get the word out, but sounds like an entirely private endeavor. You have a lot of valid criticisms of NASA messaging techniques, Keith, but your complaining on this item just sounds parochial. In other contexts, I can imagine you blasting them for using government channels to promote an unaffiliated outside organization.

  2. fcrary says:

    I just did a quick check of the NASA research and analysis programs, and I can’t find any programs which really support Antarctic field work. I knew it wasn’t easy, but this seems to have gotten worse. I think that’s unfortunate.

    All of the planetary programs have added a clause saying that they no longer fund Antarctic field work. They used to, as analogues to extraterrestrial environments. Apparently, that’s been dropped.

    Most of the Earth science programs which mention Antarctica are limited to remote sensing, not field work. One said they might allow it, but it was discouraged and required special permission before even submitting a proposal. And even then, it implied the field portion of the proposal would need NSF funding.

  3. gelbstoff says:

    Is this funded by NASA? If not, this could be the issue – no program owns this adventure. We do get press releases and media attention for field work in inhospitable places. My experience at GSFC is that PAO is more than happy to issue the press releases and organize access to the media.

  4. Michael Spencer says:

    I’ve appreciated your reports from Everest and Devon over the years/ decades.

    And I didn’t know about until yesterday…Great URL, too.