We completed our North Pole water station and found an ice floe suitable for photos and sampling. A brief ceremony was conducted to congratulate the entire ship on making it to the North Pole. We received certificates and Arctic Service medals for our time above 66 °N. Everyone gathered for a group photo, after which we were allowed one hour on the ice for ice liberty. During our ice liberty we took photos with Santa, a pole that we brought out (it is not always there because the North Pole is not a landmass) and other various photos. People smoked cigars to celebrate and some started a football game. Everyone was ecstatic to be off the ship for a bit.
After our ice liberty, we had a 10 hour ice station. I helped out with snow sampling for a radionuclide group sampling cesium 137 (an isotope that decays after two years) for influence from Fukushima. After sampling a few one meter square plots, we helped other groups tote gear to and from the ship. Ice sampling is a lot of work due to the transportation of the equipment, tromping through the snow followed by working long hours, and toting all of the gear and samples back to the ship. We push, pull, and drag our gear to our sampling spots on the ice using sleds, which is not quite like the sledding I’m used to.
After completing our ice station, the German ship the Polarstern stopped at the same ice floe as the Healy. The German scientists walked over to the Healy for a tour of the ship and lab space. They then were gracious hosts and showed us around their ship. The Polarstern is very different from the Healy, because it is a research vessel operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute (named after the scientist who first discovered continental drift), rather than a military operated ship. Notable features of the Polarstern are its swimming pool, sauna, and bar. Scientists rotate serving the crew in the bar to show appreciation for their hard work. This is a lot different compared to American ships, which are dry.