Thursday, October 10, 2013

Station opening work

 We are preparing for summer station opening November 1st. However before that there will be two Kenn Borek Airlines de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters arriving for refueling while preparing for the season. 

My friend Art sent this recent NASA image showing weather around the planet. Lots of weather in Antarctica moving to the South Pole. 

Preparing the skiway. Both sides are marked with these flags.

There were two teams of three using the LMC tracked vehicles to carry the flags. The skiway is over 12,000 feet long so there were many flags.

We took turns driving to warm up. The LMC drives like a tank with the two black balled levers.

LMC controls.

It wasn't a real pleasant day for this job but we completed it.

A very interesting ice formation called Yukimarimo. Discovered in 1995 at a Japanese Research Station. Yukimarimo are balls of fine frost formed at low temperatures on the Antarctic plateau during weak wind conditions. During a storm on the Antarctic plateau, humidity rises above normal levels. After a storm, the temperature drops rapidly and, due to the excess humidity, hoarfrost forms on the surface of the snow. At these low temperatures, electrostatic attraction between the rapidly formed ice crystals is high, due to growth charging during formation. When a light wind blows after the formation of this hoarfrost, the hoarfrost breaks apart and the frost crystals clump together and stick due to the high electrostatic attraction and subsequent fusing of the ice crystals. They then tumble across the snow in a manner similar to tumbleweed. The sizes of the yukimarimo range from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. (from Wikipedia)

Sastrugi Lizard with a long tongue! Sastrugi: Long, wavelike ridges of snow, formed by the wind and found on the polar plains. Sastrugi are usually up to several meters high and are often parallel to the prevailing wind direction.

More sastrugi.

The drift at the station. 

The ceremonial South Pole marker and original Antarctic Treaty flags at 3 am.

A nice morning for a run.

Both sides of the skiway are flagged. The initial grooming has begun so I am back running the skiway.

On the left is the SPTR radome, then the RF building, and the GOES/Skynet radome. These are 3/4 mile out from the station. Black flags mark the edge of the skiway.

Another nice morning to run.

South Pole International Airport (NPX) is taking shape.

Another station opening job is re-installing all the cameras that we removed once the temperature dropped below -70 F. My co-worker and I are on the station roof. In the background is the Dark Sector.

A view from the roof.

Walking out to RF for camera installation.

We really depended on this flags to find our way during the darkness. There are strips of reflective tape on the bamboo poles.

Sitting next to the 9 meter GOES radome is this smaller backup GOES antenna in case of failure. This non-moving wider beam antenna will work if the drive fails in the 9 meter.


  1. Hi MIke! Gorgeous pictures with sunlight. The ice looks so different after the winter extreme weather. Your pictures are so clear, and I wonder what camera you are using? I think the ice looks cleaner and unusually soft, but I doubt that it is. Thank you for sharing the flags as we are planning a Veteran's Day program at school and I will be teaching about flag etiquette. I need a color guard! Hurry up and fly home so you can carry your SP flag! Hope your weekend was full of good freshies and fun! Love always, Andee

  2. Thanks Andee. I'm using the same camera I have used for years the Panasonic waterproof DMC. A great little camera that is rated to +14 F. It has worked in -104 F temps. The perfectly clear South Pole air makes it easy. I may be home a lot sooner.