Before Juliane Gross treks to a mountain range near the South Pole in search of meteorites, the Rutgers University scientist first must undergo several days of training at McMurdo Station, a U.S. research facility on the edge of Antarctica.

But even that part of the trip comes with adventure, Gross learned over the weekend.

She and her teammates got to climb down a narrow tube through the ice shelf, where a window gave them an up-close view of the ocean.

"The water is crystal clear!" she wrote in the team's blog. "It is the most amazing thing ever! The sunlight paints the frozen sea ice in this eerie glow of yellow, green, and blue-ish colors."

Gross, an associate professor of earth and planetary sciences at Rutgers, volunteered to go on the two-month excursion, funded by NASA and managed by Case Western Reserve University. Since 1976, the project has recovered more than 21,000 meteorites from Antarctica.

Because the rocks are found in Antarctica's pristine, unspoiled environment, they can yield valuable clues about the history of our solar system.

Soon, Gross and her teammates will fly to Shackleton Glacier Camp, named for early 20th-century polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, and from there to Mount Cecily and Mount Raymond, less than 300 miles from the South Pole.