Special Planes Are En Route To Rescue A Scientist From The South Pole

As we speak

The BICEP and South Pole Telescopes, 2008

The BICEP and South Pole Telescopes, 2008

Data from the BICEP (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) Telescope contributed to the findings described below.Keith Vanderlinde, National Science Foundation

The South Pole sits thousands of miles from civilization, atop a 9,000-foot-thick ice sheet. It's night there now, and will stay night until September. The temperatures average around negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And a scientist with a medical emergency needs to be rescued, in the first South Pole rescue mission since 2003.

The National Science Foundation, which runs the research station, had to be convinced to send an emergency plane to rescue the unnamed scientist. On June 14, after a day and a half of deliberation, they agreed: A plane departed from Calgary, Canada and will arrive in the middle of the largest desert on the planet after a five-day trip, as long as the weather holds up. Then, it’ll turn around and bring the patient thousands of miles to a facility where they can get the treatment they need.

There have only been two winter rescue missions to the South Pole since 1957, one in 2001 and one in 2003. The mission requires special planes that can withstand the frigid temperatures, "Twin Otters," equipped with skis to land on the ice. The National Science Foundation contracted a Calgary, Canada, based firm to complete the mission. The reason is medical, but specifics have not been released due to privacy concerns, according to the Washington Post.