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AMASE 2007: One Last Day
Today was our last full day on AMASE 07. It began with a short sail up Isfjorden to Billefjorden and Ebbadalen where we had a field site last year. While the biologists stayed on ship to finish analyses and start packing up labs, I went ashore with a group of geologists to take a closer look at the stratigraphy in Ebbadalen.

Last year we collected a very organic rich sample nicknamed Diesel Dolomite. It was picked up because of its obvious organics, but at the time no attention was paid to its original context. After finding it such an interesting sample at home, I had motivation to go back and figure out where it really came from. We decided to cross the valley from where we had been last year and walk up a ridge with very nice exposures.

We hiked past the Ebbadalen Sandstone we had worked on last year, evaporates, more mudstones and sandstones and eventually came to the Diesel Dolomite! I was quite pleased to have been able to find the first outcrop I had ever searched for in the field :) I felt my geology skills grow a little bit. Looking back across the valley, we could easily see that the location where we had picked up the Diesel Dolomite sample last year was actually part of a large landslide. This really brought home the importance of looking around and establishing context for all the samples we collect. If we hadn’t crossed the valley, we could have easily mistaken the true source of the Diesel Dolomite.

While we were out hiking, the rover team deployed on a very steep cliff near the shore. They had a successful drive down a nearly vertical face. There was only one minor incident involving a rock falling and hitting the rover as it slowly maneuvered downwards. We joked that perhaps the rover should wear a helmet...

Everyone returned to the ship by 6 and prepared for the final dinner. We were instructed to wear our finest black. We assembled for some final photos on deck and then went down to the mess hall. The room had been transformed beautifully! We were met with tablecloths, candlelight, wine glasses and formal table settings. The chef and kitchen ladies had gone all out for the affair. Each setting had fanned napkins and an appetizer plate. Caviar from squeeze tubes, disturbingly reminiscent of toothpaste, had been a routine condiment on our lunch tables but the caviar was now spritzed alongside mayonnaise and tuna fish into artistic swirls on our plates.

Unaccustomed to such finery, we sat down a tad awkwardly to a fantastic dinner of beef, mushrooms, baby corn, and potatoes au gratin. It was delicious. After some feasting, dinner was interrupted by a cascade of toasts. We were one big family, happy to be together sharing stories and much laughter. Marilyn kept saying it felt like a wedding.

After dinner we had a continuation of ceremonial events, inaugurating the Lance crew as official AMASErs. The women on the expedition also staged a spoof on our rover simulation science meetings and held a SWOG- “Super Women Observing Grossness” meeting. Just as in the real SOWG meeting, we had a field team, science team and mission manager. Instead of sending the field team outside, they investigated the “twin planet system” of Hansonia and Steeliona, our expedition and science leaders. I played the part of Safety Babe, which involved walking around holding a 45 Magnum, protecting the field team from danger and generally maintaining a serious but aloof sense of order. Everyone enjoyed the performance.

It was a late night enjoyed by all. It did not seem like our time together was about to end. We packed as many people as we could into the hot tub and the night’s memories swirled away with the steam.

Kirsten Fristad
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center