During the week of December 6, 2010, Art Mortvedt, respected bush pilot, wilderness guide with over 24 years of polar expedition experience, and member of the Tawani Expedition Team, has traveled to the Antarctic on a special solo mission. The purpose for this “recon” mission is to best prepare for the follow up Tawani 2011 Expedition that will take place and providing for the best possible logistics and care of that future team. Art will be inspecting the inventory and reporting on condition of the equipment stored from the 2008 expedition.
Additionally while there, Art, for purposes of education and mission awareness will be making update calls to Chicago from his Iridium Satellite phone, taking digital stills as well as video with his handheld HD camera. These calls will be archived on this site and can be found at this link.
The following information was provided by Marty Kress, Executive Director of the Von Braun Institute for Science & Innovation regarding the Tawani 2011 International Antarctic Expedition:
The 2011 TAWANI INTERNATIONAL ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION is derived from a prior Tawani Foundation funded, collaborative environmental conservation research project that was broadly focused on the lakes, soils and ice of the Schirmacher and Untersee Oases ecosystems in Queen Maud Land Antarctica.
The investment in dialog between our team and those that help place us into the field made a tremendous difference with respect to our ultimate success. It goes without saying that camaraderie such as this is one of the most important aspects of formulating a successful research effort to an extremely remote setting. In addition to having expedition members with superb scientific backgrounds, success in the field requires an enormous amount of teamwork and coordination. It is the confluence of this enabling camaraderie along with the successful application of the previous logistics lessons and knowledge gained from our scientific results that we wish to build upon in this new and highly focused project. The pieces are all in place to ensure the successful execution of the 2011 Tawani Antarctic Expedition.
Results from our work will provide new constraints on the characteristics of early organisms by creating a framework to identify microbial behaviors from the rock record. They will lead to insights into the co-evolution of microbial communities and the interactions within these communities. Specifically, results from the proposed research will improve our understanding of the development and interpretation of macroscopic structures that affect chemical transport and gradients within microbial communities. As a secondary benefit, model development and exploration will provide a means to identify and study specific structures that might be uniquely biological. Long term, this line of research will provide a more rigorous intellectual framework for evaluating potential macroscopic morphological biosignatures in the search for life elsewhere in the solar system.
The principal focus of the proposed 2011 Tawani International Antarctic Project, will be to move beyond our initial discoveries and observations and to concentrate our studies on the benthic microbial mats, particularly the large conical stromatolites, the smaller pinnacle mats, and how they form the observed structures.
Lake Untersee is a significant site of scientific interest and the comparisons we make between it and other polar lakes will lead to a much more comprehensive understanding of perennially ice-covered lakes on Earth and will further our appreciation for these very unique ecosystems
To learn more about Von Braun and the Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritcs & Polar Studies at The Field Museum of Chicago, follow these links. The Field Museum, through the Robert A. Pritzker Center and the Polar Expedition Fund will partner with Von Braun on the coordination of the Tawani 2011 Antarctic Expedition.