Microplastic in the Desert

Microplastic in the Desert

Awareness has been increasing on the effects that our society has on the Earth. There has been a push for understanding the quantity of microplastics we have in our oceans, but what about other ecosystems? We are proud to introduce you our new research project: Microplastic in the Desert!

The new micro-project supported by Polarquest aims to investigate microplastics in deserts and if microplastics are being transported by wind currents. From 5th to 19th May 2019, a planned expedition to collect sand samples is to take place in an area of privately owned desert in Utah, as part of the Mars Desert Research Station.

Mars desert research station

This area has minimal human interaction and therefore is an ideal area to show microplastics deposits most likely by wind, rather than human interaction. The collection of sand and the microplastics separation will be documented by blogs and videos to help communicate awareness.

The young Mechanical Engineer Zoe Townsend— currently working at CERN within the Magnets, Superconductors and Cryostats group— is taking part in this first sampling campaign as Crew Journalist.

“The future is in the hands of those who explore” so good luck to Zoe and all the crew. And you, keep following us to learn more about the project and its results!

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Chatting with Zoe...

May 15, 2019

Hi all going okay?

Yes, sorry it was 1.30am when I received your whatsapp. Very limited internet here so I hope you get this.

I did the first sampling yesterday, but the aluminium containers we rent are very affective, they warped a lot in sterilisation. So my plan is to use mason jars (jam jars) but they won't arrive until Friday so I'll have to do the sand sampling Friday or Saturday.

Having a good time?

Yes, it's very full on. Done 10 days of simulation- food is so bad!

Ha, you will enjoy the food when you are out more!

Haha I haven't had fresh food in almost 2 weekes. I'm craving vegetables!

May 18, 2019

Good news, new jars arrived today. So I'm going to collect the sand to Stefano's specification. Currently sterilizing the jars in an autoclave. Will do a north and south site, 5 samples per site and one background contaminants jar. We also have a jar for gloves but unfortunately, I don't think we'll find many animal droppings. Mostile reptile here we tried to track a lone antelope but we were unsuccessful.


Can also send photos tomorrow when I'm back in the hotel. Today is the last day of simulation.

Okay. Take the gps of the sites. Here rainy. Enjoy holiday after.