Exact siting of the ground-based sampling programs (Phase 2) will be determined during Phase 1 of US ITASE. Phase 2 ground-based sampling in each corridor (Figure 1) is expected to be completed in one austral summer field season with limited site reoccupation during Phase 3 to develop time-series for monitoring experiments.
Ground-based sampling may be accomplished by a combination of surface vehicles and aircraft. Limited C-130 support will be required at the start and end of each field season, and Twin Otter aircraft may be requested for sampling of some sites. Each field season has a proposed start in the Byrd region. Utilizing the Byrd region in this way is not necessarily a requirement, but rather recognition of the suitability of a site such as Byrd Surface Camp for staging sampling and wintering vehicles and equipment. Other such sites may be more practical over the coming years. Cooperation between US ITASE, SOAR, WAIS and ANTLITH will be required to maximize logistic capabilities. Since US ITASE is intended to be a relatively lean and efficient effort, it may serve as an add-on to the logistics of larger field efforts. Following is an example of the field style proposed for US ITASE.
While not all sampling need be conducted on surface traverses, such travel affords significant scientific and logistic potential. Unlike air travel to specific sites, surface vehicle travel allows sufficient time for sampling experiments, greater hauling capability (compared to Twin Otters) and greater scheduling flexibility. While Twin Otter support may provide the most suitable access to some sites, the use of two Tuckers (several are currently available in the US program), each pulling two large sledges, allows for transport of fuel, living quarters/small sample preparation lab, freezer and supplies. Successful use was made of Tucker/sledge transport for ground sampling during the 1994-1996 field seasons on independent traverses conducted by researchers from University of Wisconsin, NASA and University of New Hampshire. These traverses demonstrated the effectiveness of existing vehicles. Exchange of food and fuel for samples assures hauling capacity equilibrium throughout the season.
Two Alpine snowmobiles with Nansen sleds will precede the main traverse body to minimize contamination of surface snow sampling and provide reconnaissance. Phase 1 route planning, surface radar and early season overflights of traverse routes will be used to define route safety. Ice cores and surface sampling will be conducted nominally every 100 km or as specified by US ITASE researchers. The field party would consist of 8-10 people: up to 6 scientists, 1-2 PICO drillers, 1 mechanic and 1 driver/ mountaineer/medic.