The 43-Year Old Polar Star Keeps Antarctic Science Running
by Felix Berkelman, age 14
Between the Southern Ocean and McMurdo Antarctic Research Station there lies the Ross Ice Shelf. During the months of December and January, the time when America sends the most supplies by boat to the research station, there is about 27 kilometers of ice in between the station, and the edge of the ice shelf. This ice can be over three meters thick.
Surprisingly, the US Coast Guard currently has only one operational ship that is able to break through ice of that thickness. This ship is called the Polar Star and, after 43 years, it is in rough shape. It lists to the left, its hull is covered in dents and scratches, and every year when it makes its journey from Seattle to Antarctica, engines fail, seals break, and pipes clog. [Read More]