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June 21, 2006
The Winter Solstice

Yungay letter two

We woke at sunrise after a very cold night. It was winter solstice and got to minus 2 C, below freezing. I wore my thermals to bed but had to wrap my legs in the coat and the rest of the clothes around my top half. I put the hat on and listened to George. (Noory) Everyone talked this morning about how cold they were. We had boiled eggs and cereal; I made my oatmeal and had an egg. The teachers from Antafagasta arrived, and we were all introduced. They put up their tents, and we headed out for the rock garden

Benito presenting at rock garden Chris presenting at rock garden

It is only 5 km away, but we had to walk up a very tall and very steep hill, and I was out of breath. Chris and Benito gave a bilingual lecture on the area as we stood in the hot sun. It was being filmed. There is a circle of rocks from here and there that they call the rock garden. We carefully made our way down to the trucks and vans and came back for lunch: my half a sandwich.

Jim demoing his instruments

Then we listened to Jim tell about his testing. His instrument measures metabolism of algae by measuring its natural fluorescence because electrons are moving from phase one of photosyn to phase two. Then he blasts it with light and measures the fluorescence. The system gets overloaded by the light blast and shuts down. The important number is the ratio between the two measurements. If you think this is hard you should hear it in science talk. This was my third time with it and I think I am getting it. It is very, very hot and way too hot in the tents to nap.

The teachers are going to have a meeting soon, both Chilean and American. The Chilean teachers told us that they live their lives never leaving their town, and that this is quite an opportunity for them.

When the wind comes up in a couple hours we will go to another transect to take samples. Then dinner, spaghetti, and I am off to bed. And we do it again tomorrow. The generator is only on in the evenings for a couple hours. I am going to try to plug the computer in to recharge. Chris says we can plug the computers into the cars to recharge…am I set up to do that? I will look for the plug.

This opportunity is brought to you
in partnership with
Mars Society,
NASA Explorer Schools,
Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS),
National Society of Black Engineers - Space Special Interest Group (NSBE - Space),
Space Generation.


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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: April 2007
Teachers Contact: Liza Coe