Welcome to the Southern Hemisphere

Although the winter holidays aren’t quite over yet, the CONVERGE mission to Palmer Station, Antarctica, has begun. On the day after Christmas, some 32 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, and students said goodbye to their families, left North America, and flew down the entire length of South America. Now we’re all at the skinny tip of the continent, in Punta Arenas, Chile, on the shores of the Strait of Magellan.

Across the water lies Tierra del Fuego; beyond it is Cape Horn; and beyond that is the Drake Passage and Antarctica. We’ll be there in about five days. Now is the time to buy last-minute supplies like sunscreen, chocolate, and seasickness medicine; to try on our Extreme Cold Weather gear to make sure it fits; and to fit all of our gear and supplies onto the ship that will take us across to Antarctica.

Read more about the preparations in our slideshow:

Summer Night in Punta ArenasDo You Have These in a Smaller Size?Extreme Weather Fashion ConsultantsWhich Way Is North?Open-Air OfficeAll AboardEat Your Veggies—and Your FruitsA Lucky Ritual for a Lucky CrossingIcebreaker at Night

We’re now cruising slowly eastward through the Strait of Magellan. We’ll cross into Argentine waters and then turn south toward the Drake Passage, one of the most fearsome stretches of ocean on Earth. So far the forecast looks like fairly good weather, and the scientists are looking forward to seeing dolphins, penguins, whales, albatrosses, and other wildlife. While we’re at sea we’ll have little contact with the outside world—but we’ll transmit updates via a satellite connection to let you know how we’re doing and what we’re seeing.

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  1. Alexis Custer January 4, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    Hi Hugh and Chris,

    These blogs are amazing. Beautiful pictures!

    Thank you

  2. Collin January 6, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    Do you ask some tips about your glider to the people at Rutgers, I mean they did send a glider across the Atlantic Ocean. Those tips could improve your glider. Thanks!

    • Brian Francisco January 7, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

      what is the lowest temperature recorded in Antarctica?

    • Hugh Powell January 10, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

      Hi Brian – The lowest temperature measured in Antarctica was –128.6 Fahrenheit at Vostok Station in July 1983. However, in August 2010 a NASA satellite detected a temperature of –135.8 in a region of east Antarctica. It’s not nearly that cold here at Palmer Station. We’re relatively far north and it’s the middle of summer. It was just above freezing here today. Thanks for asking! – Hugh

  3. Linda Librizzi January 7, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    thank you for the great pix and informative blog

  4. Heather Melendez January 7, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    What if you don’t have enough gear when you arrive somewhere. What do you do?

    • Hugh Powell January 7, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

      Hi Heather – Good question. The best answer is to plan well enough that you don’t forget anything at home! Antarctica is really hard to get to and it’s a very harsh place that can be dangerous. So we take packing seriously and try to bring everything we need. Palmer Station has some extra supplies such as warm clothes, medicine, and stores of food in case of emergency. When we go out on the zodiacs, each passenger brings a waterproof bag of extra clothes and food. Most of the small islands off of Palmer Station also have emergency caches—these are blue plastic barrels that contain tents, stoves, food, and warm covers, in case we get stranded by bad weather or equipment failures. We also carry radios so that we can check in with the people back at Palmer Station and call for help if necessary. Thanks for asking! – Hugh

  5. Danielle January 7, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    I really like the photos of the boats you’re sailing on. Roughly how many people can fit on one boat?

    • Hugh Powell January 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

      Hi Danielle – The Laurence M. Gould can carry 37 scientists and 16 crew, for a total of 53 people. Thanks for asking! – Hugh

  6. Collin January 7, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

    Do all scientists like yourself always go to that one certain port in chile? How did scientists decided that was the right place to start? Pics are amazing!

  7. Heather Melendez January 8, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    Thank you for answering my question it was very helpful to know.

  8. Christian R January 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    What has been the highest recorded temperature in Antarctica, since you have been stationed there?

    • Hugh Powell January 16, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

      Hi Christian – We’ve only been here about 2 weeks, and in that time the temperature has gotten up to about 5 degrees Celsius, which is about 42 Fahrenheit. From what we’ve heard, that’s quite a bit warmer than it has been back in North America! Thanks for asking – Hugh

  9. Jahmere Fulmore January 23, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    How do you know how much food and supplies to bring on your trip?

    • Hugh Powell January 24, 2015 at 10:51 am #

      Hi Jahmere – Good question. The answer is by spending a bunch of time beforehand planning. The scientists in charge of this project worked several years in advance with the support staff at Palmer Station to plan out exactly how many people would be here, how long they would stay, and what they would need to do their jobs. That helped them figure out things like how much food we needed to have with us and how much equipment to bring. Thanks for your question – Hugh

  10. Yamilex Rivera January 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    Hello Mr.Powell I Am A Student At Rivera Middle School In Trenton New Jersey. I Was Interested To See How The Scientists Live In Such A Cold Place And How There Is Nothing Edible That Grows In Antartica!!!

  11. Allishehm January 23, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Really interesting how here going to travel the Antarctica