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Polar Gateways Arctic Circle Sunrise

Polar Gateways Arctic Circle Sunrise 2008




Dr. John F. Cooper, Conference Chairman

The ICESTAR/IHY team for the International Polar and Heliophysical Years 2007-2009 convened the Polar Gateways Arctic Circle Sunrise 2008 conference at Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost town of the United States, during the first week of local polar sunrise, January 23-29, 2008 to address the earth, planetary, and heliophysical science and future exploration of polar and icy worlds in the solar system. In the words of T. S. Eliot (see below) we found that "the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started" with a new appreciation for connections of science of the Sun, the Earth, the other planetary bodies, and the heliosphere from these different disciplines. In visiting Barrow, accessible at this time only by air travel and otherwise isolated in all directions by icy tundra or ocean, all on-site participants gained a true sense of what life would be like in pioneering communities on other worlds. Videoconference and teleconference technology allowed us to extend two-way participation in the science sessions to ICESTAR/IHY team scientists gathered at other Arctic sites in Norway, Sweden, and Russia, also to Antarctica, and to a larger group of scientists at two NASA Centers and three universities in the U.S. Over half of our conference contributions originated from these remote sites. Our local hosts at the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) provided the newly constructed venue of their Barrow Arctic Science Center and connected us to the physical environment and cultural traditions of Barrow. All principal science proceedings were web broadcast live through videoconferencing facilities of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and educational sessions were made available to participating schools through the NASA Digital Learning Network. We invite you to join in our memorable polar exploration experience at the "top of the world" by exploring here on-line the full archival records of these proceedings as unique legacies from the current international years to present and future generations of scientists, educators, students, and the general public.

"The visiting astronomers not only taught us, but they came to listen and learn about the traditions and science of the local Inupiat Eskimo people. They went to the schools and talked with elders and people of all ages."
Earl Finkler, KBRW Radio, Barrow

Poem by T.S.Eliot

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