Tag Archives: Felicity Aston

Transport in the Antarctic

31 Dec

Felicity Aston the explorer, writes in the Geographical about motorised transport to the South Pole. There are now tracked vehicles that can work even in the extreme temperatures and awful surfaces of Antarctica. The South Pole Operations Traverse transports fuel from the Ross Sea to the South Pole station each year. The journey takes 40 days for the round trip and is made by a convoy of tracked vehicles.It saves many transport flights to The Pole. Felicity describes also the use of four -wheel-drive vehicles with big tyres of very low pressure, that can tackle even the softest surface.

Felicity described Ernest Shackleton’s car. He took this to Antarctica as part of a publicity campaign for his sponsor Beardmore, who ran the Arrol-Johnston engineering company in Scotland. The car was four cylinder, 15 horse power. Newspapers at the time, (which I have read), quoted Shackleton as saying that the car could go at over 50 mph and he thought it might get to The Pole.

The car did not do well, but the suggestion that it might get to The Pole is not as far fetched  as it may appear at first. Shackleton thought that the Ice Barrier (that leads to the glaciers that rise to the high Antarctic plateau), would actually stretch on to the South Pole. He only discovered that the mountains stood in the way of his advance when he was on his expedition. It was said afterwards, that he showed enormous courage in launching himself up the glacier.


Communication in Antarctica

12 Nov

I am constantly amazed at the current level of communication between the vast snowy wastes of Antarctica and the outside world.

Felicity Aston, who was the first woman to cross the Antarctic alone , an unbelievable achievement, took a combination of Twitter and iPadio. She sent messages from her satellite phone to TwitterMail and her comments appeared as Tweets. iPadio apparently creates podcasts and transcribes them to blogs. It also uploads audio and text files to a website. Felicity just had to ring a number on her satellite phone and talk.

She carried a Yellowbrick Tracker which bleeped her position every eight hours.

In my research on the early Antarctic heroes the fact that strikes me most is their total isolation. They were literally cut of from all lines of communication to the outside world. Scott had an early form of internal communication in that when he set out on his final journey and realized  that he was without Queen Alexandra’s flag. he was able to communicate with Base from the first depot. Mawson broke new ground when his expedition up a communication network between Macquarie Island, Australia and the Antarctic.This painfully ground into some action. The American, Admiral Richard Byrd ,was the first to really master communications in his huge expeditions. Details of his flight over the South Pole were broadcast in Times Square N.Y.

There are stupendous scientific developments in Antarctica now and communication is one of them