South Pole People
Still, the range of people here is very interesting. Although most people come from the U.S., they come from all over the country. Not surprisingly, many are from states like Colorado and Alaska, but the other day I spoke with a really cool guy from Montana that was wearing a cowboy hat on the way down here. He was here to do carpentry work on an experiment called “Ice Cube” (speaking of which, I guess I’ll post a “Science at NPX” discussion sometime soon).
There are really two groups here, Raytheon Polar Services Company (RPSC) employees and “Grantees”. Raytheon is a government contractor that runs all the basic construction, administrative, and accommodation services here. An RPSC employee might be putting up walls in the new Station, or wiring the network out at one of the outside labs, or serving food at the galley, or landing planes on the airstrip. The other group, of which I am a member, is the “Grantees”. Grantees are the researchers here; they have received grants through the NSF to come and work at NPX on various experiments ranging from atmospheric, to geological to cosmological sciences.
NPX lack one group, tourists. This I believe is a good thing. Life down here is not as harsh as one might expect when you are warm indoors, but it’s a whole other story outside. I don’t think the U.S. government needs to devote resources to track reckless adventurers. Also, many of the experiments here are sensitive to disruption from human motion or radio devices. So if you want to see the South Pole anytime in the near future, I’d recommend getting into science or carpentry ;)