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Buzz Aldrin, one of the first men to walk on the moon, was safely evacuated from the South Pole, the U.S. National Science Foundation said December 1.

The agency, which runs the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole research station, transported the ailing 86-year-old Apollo 11 astronaut on a military flight to McMurdo Station on the coast and then on to New Zealand.

« The plane carrying Buzz Aldrin out of Antarctica has reached Christchurch, New Zealand, » Peter West, a spokesperson for NSF, said in an email.

« Upon arrival in Christchurch, the Antarctic program’s logistics hub in New Zealand, Aldrin was transferred to a local medical facility, » West says.

The coldest and driest place on Earth, the South Pole is an extreme location that’s incredibly hard on the human body. The miles-thick ice sheet at the Pole sits at an altitude of almost 10,000 feet, which feels more like 12,000 feet because of the low air pressure and arid polar atmosphere. (Journey to the harsh wilderness of in the new National Geographic channel show Continent 7.)

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