Dr. Rodney Marks was spending the period from November 1999 through November 2000 as the Winterover Scientist for the AST/RO (Antarctic Submillimeter Telescope and Remote Observatory) project at the South Pole. Before deploying to Pole last October, Rodney passed all of the stringent medical/dental/psychological exams required by the U.S. Antarctic Program for winterovers. He had previously wintered at the Pole in 1998 for the SPIREX/Abu (near-infrared) project.
Last week, AST/RO was in the early stages of what promised to be its most successful winter observing season ever. Rodney was doing a superb job running the observatory, getting the data, and working on new observational techniques. On Friday 12 May 2000, as he and a colleague were walking from the AST/RO building in the Dark Sector back to the main South Pole base, Rodney began to have breathing difficulties and to feel quite badly. He checked himself into the base medical facility. He began to develop very serious symptoms while under the care of the doctor. The base emergency trauma team was called in to help, and the doctor consulted with colleagues by satellite. We are told Rodney recovered somewhat and could converse with his attendants, but at some point his heart stopped and resuscitation efforts failed. It will not be possible to determine the specific cause of death until after the station opens in November.
In honor of Rodney's memory, the science winterovers at the Pole and the AST/RO team here have committed themselves to making the AST/RO telescope as scientifically productive as possible for the remaining months of the 2000 observing season. Rodney will be greatly missed by his family and his many colleagues and friends.
Visit the memorial page on the CARA website