The Traverse Begins
After three weeks of hectic preparation, including placing brand new Norwegian and US flags - and decals for NSF and the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) - on the tracked vehicles, the traverse rolls out on November 16, 2007, heading for South Pole, more than 3,000 kms away. NPI's Jan-Gunnar Winther thinks a successful traverse will be a historic milestone in both exploration and cutting-edge science. The train of heavily-laden sleds passes spectacular mountain scenery as it climbs away from Troll Station up to the flat, white polar plateau. At their first science stop, researchers Mary Albert, Tom Neumann and Lou Albershardt dig a snow pit, and explain why they are sampling seasonal layers and photographing ice crystals - in part to gather "ground truth" to calibrate NASA's satellite observations of the vast and little known East Antarctic.