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Plane lands on ice.
Photo Credit: Emanuel Jacobi

Perfect landing

Arrival of Basler aircraft marks the end of winter isolation at South Pole

The loneliness of the long-distance winter-over at the South Pole Station External U.S. government site is finally over. Two Basler BT-67 aircraft landed at the U.S. Antarctic Program's External U.S. government site  southernmost research base on Oct. 16 (local time), ending about eight months of isolation for the 47 scientists and support personnel spending the winter. The planes were en route from the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Station External Non-U.S. government site to McMurdo Station External U.S. government site, stopping at South Pole to refuel. One Basler, a retrofitted Douglas DC3, was scheduled to return as early as Oct. 19 (local time) with new personnel from McMurdo, officially marking the beginning of the summer field season. South Pole is the last of three USAP research stations to begin summer operations, though temperatures still averaged nearly minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit as of last week. Research at the South Pole Station focuses on atmospheric science and astrophysics. Two of the largest experiments include the South Pole Telescope External Non-U.S. government site and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory External Non-U.S. government site. The above photo, which shows one of the Basler airplanes landing on the ice runway at Pole, was taken by IceCube winter-over Emanuel Jacobi External Non-U.S. government site and posted on the IceCube blog External Non-U.S. government site.