Today the focus was on safety, so we started the day with a 3-hour briefing about polar bears, rifles, what to bring in the field, how to behave in the field, how to dress in the field, and how to not be stupid in the field. It was kind of a long sit, but better safe than sorry and I must say the part about the polar bears helped me feeling less uncomfortable about them. In about 99% of the encounters you can scare them away without any trouble.
If not... shoot to kill.
Well, that's quite a statement for someone who's never even been close to a gun shot, so off to the shooting range.
First, we practiced half-loading a gun: put the bullets in the magazine, close the bolt - without loading the chamber, and pull the trigger. This is the safest way to carry a rifle and be able to quickly operate it (you just pull the bolt and load the bullet into the chamber). However, we had to try this in room full of people, which is a good way of figuring out who can handle guns safely, but scared the hell out of me (pardon my language).
Then we went off to the shooting range for the real deal.. That was a totally different experience. We all had to get certified rifle shooters by firing at a target, first lying on your stomach, then kneeling, and lastly standing upright. That was an experience... I did much better than I anticipated, did not get scared at all, and actually found it quite fun. The other good point - I completely lost my last nerves about running into polar bears. So time to get into the field.
Besides all the training we actually did some preliminary science. We are divided in 4 different disciplinary groups
* Mineralogy / Geochemistry
* Organic geochemistry
* Biology / Planetary protection.
Because Amy's SAM-like pyrolysis mass spec and VAPoR will do similar measurements we decided to split up, and since Amy is a mineralogist, I joined the organic geochemistry group. The goals of these groups is to reach a common standpoint on where to go sciencewise and what samples we need to reach our scientific goals. As group lead, I have to defend our choices against the other groups and come to a mutual agreement about with strategy to follow. Not yet though, science starts tomorrow.
Of course some more scenic pictures, because at 19.15 the sun decided to come out!
Tourist cruise in the harbour
The Chinese Arctic research station
The old train and the pole to which Roald Amundsen connected his blimp (zeppelin)
Town, left side
Town, right side. I'm in the yellow building in the back
View of the fjord, with some interesting geological feature (the pyramid, no clue why it is shaped like that)
And of course the daily picture of the blue ice across the fjord
The sun at 21.00