Home » Forest Lake local’s journey to Antarctica 

Forest Lake local’s journey to Antarctica 

Nayda Hernandez    February 25, 2024    3 min read   

Forest Lake local Julian Galvez was offered the opportunity of lifetime in late November 2023 when he was asked to join a team of environmental researchers to Antarctica – the highest, driest, windiest, and coldest continent in the world. 

The 30-year-old recently completed his PhD in Robotics and Autonomous Systems. 

Julian’s research focuses on how to explore planetary surfaces using drones to look for textures or signs related to life like water using artificial intelligence. His research is mainly in the context of Mars exploration.

“This trip to Antarctica was, in a few words, unique, amazing and cold,” Julian said.

“The white content is massive – bigger than Australia, and is full of relevant archeological, geological, and biological features. 

“I spent the last two months there at Bunger Hills, one of the few rocky areas in Antarctica, uncovered by snow – a really marvellous and unique landscape, like another planet.”

The campaign Julian was part of was called the Denman Terrestrial Campaign, which highlights the Denman glacier – a huge mass of ice with the potential to raise sea level by a couple of metres if it melts.

“Our mission, as part of a team of scientists, was to collect data of vegetation never seen by humanity using drones, to increase our knowledge of the area and how that connects with the global scales and phenomenon such as global warming, and how Antarctica was formed and what happened when it was glued to Australia 50 million years ago.”

Julian said the tools he developed during his PhD could one day help to look for life traces beyond Earth, as well as help to look for resources or minerals on Earth. The drone automation can be used to protect the environment by actively monitoring wildlife, and saving time or increasing the quality and quantity of data collected with drones. 

“Climate change is happening, despite it being hard to see it progressing because it does it slowly. If I asked you how the weather was 50 years ago chances are you would not remember, and that is the risk,” he said.

“Science and technology progress is showing data about the weather at unprecedented scales. And the data doesn’t lie, climate change is happening, and the best we can do is to try to live in a more sustainable way and prepare for climate events, to help our loved ones and the community.”

Julian is back from Antarctica and is enjoying the Forest Lake flora and fauna. 

Since being back, he is finding time to go on mini adventures, going camping and to the beach, hiking and flying drones, which is a big part of his work. 

Many locals and their children have been asking Julian about his amazing adventure.

“I am excited to be back and be able to share stories of the adventures at a place that few have the chance to visit – I am happy to share some of that, and perhaps inspire the new generation of explorers to sail further,” he said. 

“I want to sail to other continents and look for opportunities to work on the area of space exploration, and help humanity to solve hard questions, like – ‘are we alone?’  ‘What lies beyond our understanding?’ And ‘What is needed to make humanity an interplanetary and sustainable community?’

To learn more about Julian’s work or adventures, email julian.galvez.s@gmail.com.

Nayda Hernandez