Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Last Days At the South Pole

Monday wasn't too exciting as I spent the entire day working, watched a movie in the Comm Shop Theater and went to bed.



Tuesday was an interesting day.  It started off with a shower!  That may not be a big deal for most of you, but here you get 2 2-minute showers per week.  At 2 minutes, they say that they are the most expensive shower you'll ever take.  Planning is key and it is pretty straight forward.  However, the shower valve works backwards from what I remember and I first thought all we got was a 2-minute COLD shower.  It wasn't until after I got wet (brrr), turned off the water, lathered up, and turned the water back on that I realized there was hot water.  Boy, did it feel good!



We took a break from paperwork in the afternoon to go tour the backup data center, satellite facility, and help the network admin remove a wireless access point from one of the buildings in the Dark Sector (which isn't so dark this time of year :).  The area around the South Pole is divided into four sectors: Downwind, Quiet, Clean Air, and Dark.  The Downwind Sector is for balloon launches and such.  The Quiet Sector is for seismology and vibration-sensitive research.  The Clean Air Sector is for air and snow sampling activities and is upwind from the station to prevent pollution from the generators, aircraft, and machinery.



After we were done removing the wireless access point, we went over to see the South Pole Telescope (SPT) and BICEP telescope.  Clarence gave us a tour of SPT and Cynthia(?) gave us a tour of BICEP.  The tours were very interesting and they did an excellent job explaining how and what they were doing in a way that we could understand.  I won't insult their intelligence and pretend I can explain it.  Click on the above links for details.  I found it all to be very interesting and definitely the intellectual highlight of the trip so far.



One of the things that happen on station is that you pretty much always have to clean a bathroom at some point.  Tuesday was my scheduled day.  All in all not too bad.  I think that this is a good strategy because people tend to take care of a bathroom they may be cleaning later.



Wednesday.  After finishing up on some work, several of us made filters for our cameras out of some mylar from the greenhouse.  This is prep for the solar eclipse on Thursday!  I then I tried to get caught up on work email and pack my bags for the trip to McMurdo.  At 2030, the showed the Super Bowl in the galley.  I had to leave before the end because I wanted to help launch a weather balloon at 2200.  That was pretty neat too.  I'm going to finish writing some postcards and then go to bed.



My plane is leaving tomorrow around 1130.  Before that I plan to get a tour of the ARO facility in the Clean Air Sector and go to the webcam to wave to anyone watching.  If you want to see me, go to this link at 1200 MST: http://www.usap.gov/videoclipsandmaps/spwebcam.cfm.  The web cam refreshes about every 30 seconds and I'll try and hang out there for 5-10 minutes.



I'll upload pictures once I get back to McMurdo where there is a bit more bandwidth.  If you want to watch the progress of my flight tomorrow, you can follow it using Google Earth!  Install Google Earth, if you don't have it installed.  Then click on this link: https://sopp.spawar.navy.mil/feed/flightFollowing.kml
I'm supposed to be on Skier 41.  It should leave McMurdo about 1230 MST and arrive at Pole at 1530.  It'll probably head north about 1600 MST, hopefully with me on it.  If my flight changes, I'll send out an email, if the satellite is still up.



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