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Christchurch to Scott Base, come in Scott Base

4 September 2008

Curious about what they do and how they live at Scott Base on Antarctica? The Antarctic Festival 2008 is offering Christchurch residents a chance next month to get to know how they do it on the coldest continent in the world.

You can get to eye ball - in more ways than one – the intrepid researchers and technicians who overwinter on Antarctica. A brand bubble that looks like a giant floating eyeball will be used as the screen with which to video conference with Scott Base.

An ISDN video link, courtesy of Telecom, will allow the public to communicate in real time to scientists, engineers and other personnel through the video unit at Our City O Tautahi on Friday 26 September. Three separate sessions are billed from 11.30 am, concluding at 1.30 pm.

At four and half metres high, the rear-projected Brand Bubble video unit will allow for a face-to- face encounter with the multi-talented techies at the Base. The overwintering Kiwis handle several roles at the Base, using their know-how to carry out other tasks.

For instance, the science technician is also the fire chief, IT technician and deputy manager; the medic is also the shop and bar manager, domestic, and a member of the search and rescue (SAR) team, as is the carpenter; and the field support coordinator also looks after cargo and is the head of the Joint Antarctic Search and Rescue Team (JASART) which is a combined NZ and US team. Grant Hill, Winter Manager for Scott Base, is also the mechanic and critical incident manager.

Laura Taylor of the Christchurch City Council’s Events team is setting in place a three-session programme, including sessions involving tertiary students who can ask Scott Base about technical matters.

Ms Taylor anticipates that most of the questions will be around why people keep going back to Antarctica, what is like working on the ice and what research they were doing at the moment.

“Someone would want to know how long water takes to boil in the freezing temperatures, or what is the most exciting new technology being used. Much of what happens out there is a mystery to us and it does arouse the curiosity of many,” says Ms Taylor.

“We are lucky that Scott Base is as excited about the link as we are. They will kindly make time for the video conference, spreading their personnel over the three sessions so that the base remains well-manned throughout,” she says.

Scott Base is also hoping that a couple of scientist, slotted to arrive at spring fly, will be able to join them in the video conference. The video conference will take place only days before the summer crew arrive.

Friday 26th September at Our City O-Tautahi:

11.00 am  Test call ChCh to Scott Base

11.30        Event starts with Session One

12. 15 pm  Session Two

1.00          Session Three, General Q&A 

1.30          Event finish

The topics we will chat about in each session will be available soon on the festival website,


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