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According to Buzz Aldrin his health problems in Antarctica last week was caused by altitude sickness.
Because of the thick ice that blankets Antarctica, the South Pole sits at an elevation of 2,835 meters (9,300 feet). Aldrin said in a statement he still has some congestion in his lungs and so has been advised to rest in New Zealand until it clears up and to avoid the long flight back to the U.S. for now. Aldrin, his son Andrew and manager Christina Korp had been visiting Antarctica as tourists on a trip organized by the White Desert tour company. They left last Tuesday from South Africa. “South Pole here I come!” Aldrin wrote on Twitter at the time.
He said the trip began well, and that he’d been planning to spend time with scientists who were studying what it would be like to live on Mars because the conditions in Antarctica were similar. “I had been having a great time with the group at White Desert’s camp before we ventured further south,” he said. “I started to feel a bit short of breath so the staff decided to check my vitals. After some examination they noticed congestion in my lungs and that my oxygen levels were low, which indicated symptoms of altitude sickness.” Aldrin said he was put on the next flight, a ski-equipped LC-130 cargo plane that took him to McMurdo Station, a U.S. research center on the Antarctic coast. “Once I was at sea level I began to feel much better,” he said.