Good morning Mr. Dave Hess,
We have some questions about Antarctica and how life is for you there. If you have time to answer these questions we will be very happy.
1. How is it to be in Antarctica?
It is cold, dry and windy here. The last few weeks the temperatures have been ranging from about 0F to -10F. The wind makes it feel much colder. The other morning when I got to work the wind chill was -62F, which is the coldest I have seen so far. It will continue to get colder as winter approaches.
2. Is it fun doing research about Antarctica?
I am not doing research, but I am working collecting data for scientists in the USA. I am working at a satellite tracking station, and presently the project is collecting data from 2 European satellites called ERS1 and ERS2. It is fun working here, and it certainly is a challenge.
3. Have you got some friends or a pet ?
I have made many new friends here. We cannot have pets here. The Antarctic Treaty has many rules to protect the fragile environment of Antarctica. One of the rules is to not import foreign species. They do not even allow dogs for sleds any more in Antarctica.
4. How started this project ?
The satellite tracking project I do at work started out of the necessity to gather data. Due to the nature of the orbits of the scientific satellites, we can gather more data here than if we were doing the same work in the USA. As to the email project I do for fun, I thought it would be fun for me as well as kids.
5. Have you got a family? Isn't it hard beeing so far away from them?
I have a wife Virginia, a son Zachary, a dog Roxie, and a cat Ebony. They are all back in the USA, and I miss them a lot. It is difficult for all of us to be apart. My family knew I wanted to come here, and I am thankful they are understanding. The last time I returned from here, our dog Roxie did not recognize me and was really growling and barking. Once she got close and smelled me, then she knew me.
6. Have you seen any penguins?
I have seen several of the Adelie penguins. We have taken many pictures, and Patti has placed some on the web pages at http://www.intercom.net/local/weeg/hess.html. I hope you can view them.
7. Have you dived into the water there?
NO! I have no plans to jump into the water here. I have met some scientists that SCUBA dive to do research. Matt, the friend that I work with, is a member of the Scott Base Polar Plungers. To join, all you have to do is jump in the water through a hole in the ice with no clothes.
8. How often do you get food and other things from US?
Best Regards from Nasbyparksskolan in Taby, Sweden.
Johan Gavlevik and Gustaf Mollefors
During the summer season, there are regular flights from Christchurch New Zealand, which is about 2300 miles to the north. The planes will bring people, supplies and mail. In late summer, a ship arrives with heavy cargo, and low priority items. In February the last plane left, and there will be no more flights until September. In years past, they would drop supplies in mid winter from a plane. This year, they say there is not enough money for the flight, so we do not get a treat of fresh food and mail in the winter. Hope to hear from you soon.
Thanks for writing,
David Hess NK3T