The Perilous Relationship Between Antarctic Conditions + Scientific Equipment

This January, 18 days into a research initiative across Antarctica’s Outer Recovery Ice Fields, the last of the team’s specialized equipment failed. This mission (held around the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the continent) aimed to recover a hypothesized cache of iron-rich meteorites. The failure was just one more blockade on the path to scientific discovery among the ice. Though its history can be defined by tragic loss of life, present-day Antarctica is being defined by frequent equipment malfunctions (attributed to more than just the weather) and the “MacGyver-esque engineering solutions” sometimes required to proceed—whether that’s for wristwatches or snow cruisers. Read more about the troubling fate of so much research equipment at The New York Times, where the author makes clear that “preparation only gets you so far.”