In the middle of February, a team of scientists set sail from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, for a two-month mission around the frigid waters. For the first week or so, they never saw the sun set -- Antarctic summer days may not be balmy, but they are long. When it finally did dip below the horizon, the sight was spectacular. Cassandra Brooks, a scientist and writer who has been blogging her journey, captured that moment, "the summer's grand finale," in a photograph.
Brooks and her team are on board the Nathaniel B. Palmer, an ice-breaking ship that has been home to researchers studying the Antarctic ice for more than two decades.
They sleep in beds like this:
They eat in this mess hall:
They work out in this gym:
And they hang out in this lounge, or another one like it, complete with little libraries of books and movies:
Brooks has now condensed her two-month expedition into just five beautifully narrated minutes.
Brooks and the other scientists on board are trying to understand how the dynamics of Antarctica's waters work, and the role they play in ecosystems around the globe. As NOVA explained in a recent special (see chapter 5), "It's hard to believe that anything life-giving could start here, in this bleak place, but that's exactly what happens. Antarctica's ice plays a vital part in maintaining global climate, sustaining life in lush, warm jungles, thousands of miles away."