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NSF Press Statement


NSF PS 01-05 - April 26, 2001

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Statement by Dr. Rita R. Colwell
Director, National Science Foundation
On South Pole Evacuation and Science

On behalf of the National Science Foundation, I want to express our congratulations and gratitude to everyone involved in this historic and unprecedented evacuation -- the air crew, of course, but also the many other participants who played critical roles in its successful outcome. That includes our Chilean and British partners.

This has been a traumatic and disruptive time for Dr. Shemenski and his family, and I'm glad he's now able to rejoin them and seek whatever medical care he deems appropriate.

In carrying out the evacuation, we worked closely with our contractor (and Dr. Shemenski's employer), Raytheon Polar Services Corp., to address two priorities: the health of Dr. Shemenski himself, and the health and safety of the 49 other people currently supporting our very important science research at the bottom of the earth.

The research carried out at the National Science Foundation's Amundsen Scott South Pole Station has global implications. For example, the ozone hole was discovered there. Because of Antarctica's uniquely pristine and isolated environment and its cold, high dry atmosphere, we are able to conduct research in astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry and glaciology that is impossible anywhere else. That research, which takes place year-round, is shedding light on key science questions -- from the origin of the universe to 21st century climate change.

Like all those who "winter-over" in Antarctica, Dr. Shemenski passed a rigorous screening process prior to leaving for Antarctica. We continually review our screening and selection procedures, and will do so again, to ensure continuing support of this essential science so critical to understanding our world.


See also: Related News



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