Antarctic Worker Thomas Atkins Dies at U.S. South Pole Station

A 40-year-old contract worker at the National Science Foundation's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station died over the weekend, apparently of natural causes, the NSF said Monday. Thomas Lawrence Atkins of Greenville, Kentucky, failed to report to work on Monday and was found dead in his room at the station, the federal agency said in a news release.

The NSF said Atkins was a technician employed by PAE, a Virginia-based subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, which provides logistical support to the U.S. Antarctic Program. This was his first deployment to Antarctica for the southern summer season, which is the peak time for research. Over the course of a year, as many as 3,000 Americans pass through Amundsen-Scott and the two other U.S.-managed stations in Antarctica, McMurdo Station on Ross Island and Palmer Station on Anvers Island. The NSF said Atkins' body was flown to McMurdo and will be transported from there to the United States via New Zealand.

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— Alan Boyle