McPhail Turrets
7 July, 2010

The spectacular row of wind-sculpted granite towers at the entrance to Antarctica's Wright Valley has been named the McPhail Turrets recognising Rob McPhail's huge contribution to scientific research on the ice.

Rob McPhail, well-known to all Antarcticans, who has flown for Helicopters New Zealand for four months of each of the past 19 years in Antarctica, has clocked up about 4000 flying hours in the region.

The New Zealand Geographic Board approved the name in March and a presentation was made to Rob when it was announced at the annual Antarctica New Zealand conference at the University of Canterbury on Monday night.

Rob said the outcrops that now bore his name were an incredible example of ventifacts, or wind-scoured rocks. He describes them as a stunning piece of natural art.
The name McPhail Turrets was proposed by Victoria University scientist Nancy Bertler. She said she spoke for all Antarctic scientists who trusted McPhail with not just their research, but often their lives.
Don Juan Pond, Greenhouse Gases and Mars

don juan pond
May, 2010

A high saline pond in Antarctica may be the source of an important greenhouse gas.

Don Juan Pond in the McMurdo Dry Valleys could also offer important lessons for exploration of Mars, according to researchers who published their findings in the April 25 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

The scientists discovered a previously unreported chemical mechanism for the production of nitrous oxide, an important greenhouse gas. The discovery could also help space scientists understand the meaning of similar brine pools in a place whose ecosystem most closely resembles that of Don Juan Pond: Mars.

For the full story, refer to the Antarctic Sun website.

Exploring Lake Bonney

May 22, 2009

The robot that scientists deployed last year into ice covered Lake Bonney in Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys was not small.

The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), named ENDURANCE (Environmentally Non-Disturbing Under-ice Robotic ANtarctic Explorer), requires its own 'garage' and a hoist to maneuver in and out of the water. It's slightly smaller than a Volkswagen Beetle without wheels.

For the full story, refer the Antarctic Sun website.

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Snowy Rock

Wright Glacier and Labyrinth, from Mount Thor. © Andris Apse, Antarctica NZ Pictorial Collection: K211 07/08