'Please No One be Under There…'

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NEW YORK  (May 3) – Astronaut and soon to be Everest Summiteer (we hope) Scott Parazynski checked in for a Skype vidchat with me a short time ago. This five-time shuttle flier and veteran spacewalker admitted he has some butterflies as the summit date appraoches. Given the weather conditions areound Everest now, his team leader Eric Simonsen is expecting to make a bid to top off sometime between May 11 and 14 – give or take.

Scott’s sidekick in this Mutt and Jeff team is Keith Cowing. I asked him about some of the scientific experiments Scott will be taking to the summit. One of the big questions astrobiologists have is how life does in conditions where there is little protection from the atmosphere’s ozone layer. Four billion years ago, in the pre-Sunblockian era, living things managed OK even though they got blasted by unfiltered UV rays.

I also asked Scott about this scary avalanche footage that he and Keith captured earlier Sunday:

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He and everyone else in Base Camp were convinced they were watching someone’s demise. They all got on their radios and started frantically calling comrades to ensure everyone was accounted for. Fortunately, they were.

You can read Scott’s blog here. And you can follow his tracks in real time with position reports from his SPOT satellite tracker – located here. Below is my Skype vidchat:

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