Already Ioannis Baziotis has begun to upload to Facebook short items and photos from his training. So far, his training has included driving lessons for snowmobiles in difficult conditions such as going up and down steep hills, as well as learning techniques for meteorite discovery in the field. Climbing the frozen hills, he gets the chance, as he says, to admire the volcanic rocks and the wonderful view.
I.Baziotis is sharing his tent with John Scuff, one of the two climbers in the mission and as he has been a member of the mission for 37 successive years, he is perhaps the man with the most experience on the planet of the Antarctic landscape.
As Ioannis says, the Antarctic is ‘ a unique experience for anyone coming from the Mediterranean, let alone a Greek like me, actually living the dream of being part of the ANSMET mission. A mission dedicated to the collection of meteorites.’
On Facebook he wrote, ‘In a place such as McMurdo Base, in just a few hours you can see all aspects of what man can do. Preparation of equipment, breakfast round a table with at least five different nationalities, cycling on the icy and muddy ‘roads’ around McMurdo, a visit to Hutpoint to see the seals glide like Australian surfers over the waves, are just a few of the experiences which I had during the first days of the mission.’
Following the stay at McMurdo Base, Baziotis and the rest of the research team will move further in inland to Camp Shackleton.
The Greek geologist’s mission will last until January 2018. He and seven others from various countries, make up the 41st Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET), a programme which NASA has conducted since 1976. These missions, jointly funded by NASA and the American National Science Foundation, have so far discovered about 22,000 of the 56,000 meteorites that have been found on earth.
The search for meteorites is carried out either on foot or using snowmobiles. Scanning of the study area is done in horizontal lines, with each member being about 50 metres away from their neighbour.
I.Baziotis is the first Greek to be part of such a mission and stated that he hoped not only to discover a meteorite but also to present Greece in as good a light as possible through his participation in the mission. His vision is to promote scientific research on meteorites in Greece.
Only one of the approximate 67,000 meteorites which have been recorded globally has been found in Greece and that is the Serres meteorite, a chondrite which fell in the Serres area in 1818.
I.Baziotis was born in Athens in 1980, graduated from the Department of Geology, Athens University in 2002, received his doctorate from the School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens in 2008 and since 2014 has taught at the Agricultural University of Athens.
He spoke to EKT about the ‘Knowledge and Partnership Bridges’ initiative shortly before his trip to Antarctica. Read more here