Thursday, February 28, 2013

My new room and a few outside pictures

My winter room.

A room with a view! It is a very nice and quiet room on the last wing's 2nd floor and at the end.

An unobstructed view of the South Pole.

The sun is still circling the Pole at around 8 degrees elevation now. This picture was taken at 5 pm.

The USAP flag beneath a metal cutout of the continent.

My new room is the closest wing, 2nd floor, end. (middle of picture)

Cargo berms.

A Christmas tree stacked on a cargo berm.

Jamesway Huts at Summer Camp

A Jamesway Hut is the Korean War version of a Quonset Hut. About 200 people can be housed in 16 Jamesways during the summer.

Hey...I didn't know we were in East LA!

A cool van.

Pisten Bully.

A nice selection of snowmobiles. During the winter three are kept warm in the garage.

More Jamesways.

Summer Camp restroom - called the Ice Palace.

Solar heated Jamesways.

The Ice Palace - restrooms.

In the event of a station emergency part of a wing can be isolated from the rest of the station. This wing has it's own (from the left) fuel tank, generator, and ice melter (enclosed in wood).

Friday, February 22, 2013

A tour of the Dark Sector

On Sunday a few of us went on a tour of the Dark Sector telescopes. All of the telescopes here are radio wave not optical. They are gearing up for a busy winter season as most of their research is accomplished during the upcoming six months of darkness. I met several of the people who will be conducting research with these telescopes.

Sunday morning I went for a run outside. I enjoyed running underneath the station where the ice is hardpacked. After 45 minutes of running laps my eyelids were freezing shut so I stopped. The goggle fan could not keep up with my effort so my eyes were not covered. I must have run at least 2 miles. After that I walked over to the geographic South Pole and ran around the world - I covered all the earth's longitudes! Some people run laps along the long passageway inside the station.

South Pole Telescope (SPT).

The SPT control station.

Inside looking up at the dish.

This is the cable wrap for telescope travel.

The little gear drives the big gear.
Power for the Space Coast Telescope.

A picture of the universe as seen from the SPT. The light and dark areas represent distance. The SPT looks at the universe 15 billion years ago.

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory consists of thousands of spherical sensors called Digital Optical Modules, each on photomultiplier tubes. 60 modules are deployed on each tube. These strings were installed into holes melted into the ice at depths to 1.2 miles. The neutrinos that travel into the ice are captured and used to explain the mystery of the origin of the highest energy cosmic rays.
A Digital Optical Module.

The modules are strung down to depths up to 1.2 miles.


The dish of Small Polimeter Upgrade for Degree Angular Scale Interferometer (DASI) (SPUD). SPUD looks at a similar radiation spectrum as the 10 meter South Pole Telescope but at a much larger scale with far less resolution. Five receivers are being placed inside the dish.

Access inside the telescope.

The SPUD dish is made of wood and lined with a reflective material.

Looking at SPT along the rooftop.

Unlike a regular radio telescope this wood dish doesn't move as the five receivers inside move as a group. Wood doesn't rot in the Antarctic.
The land of the midnight sun. Leaving one of the antennas close to midnight after late night testing. It was so cold we ran the 3/4 mile back to the station.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

McMurdo's new ice pier and scenes around the station

Two ships currently in Winter Quarters Bay, McMurdo.

The annual fueling ship along with the Nathaniel B. Palmer research vessel. That's the new ice pier that I made several postings on last winter from McMurdo.

US Post Office’s Southernmost Branch at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station


Through sleet and snow, rain and ice, we deliver the Geo Quiz.
The US Postal Service has announced it plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays. The financially struggling agency says the move could help it save as much as $2 billion a year.
But it could delay letters a bit. Of course that delay might not matter all that much if you’re sending a letter to one of the country’s most remote neighborhoods: for instance, the South Pole.
Yes, there is a US Post office at the South Pole. It’s located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
Letters sent there go by way of New Zealand where they’re loaded onto US military cargo planes bound for Antarctica.
And believe it or not, the place has its own zip code.
For Wednesday’s Geo Quiz, what’s the zip code for the South Pole?

The zip code we’re looking for is not 90210.
That of course is reserved for ritzy Beverly Hills.
Nor is it 12345 which belongs to General Electric, in Schenectady, New York.
Then there’s ours here at The World newsroom in Boston, 02135.
Nope, the one we’re looking for is at 90-degrees latitude South, at the southernmost post office in the world.
The zip code for the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is an undistinguished 96598.
Duffel bags of letters to 96598 travel to the South Pole via New Zealand on US military cargo planes usually stuffed in between scientific gear and vital supplies.
Of course deliveries can be unpredictable. Depending on the weather and logistics, packages can take up to six weeks. We haven’t heard yet on whether the ending of Saturday deliveries will be enforced at the South Pole.
One more thing.
Do not use foam peanuts. Styrofoam is banned on the frozen continent.
These two planes left recently. The DeHavilland Twin Otter in the foreground returned to Calgary, Canada - a long trip for a plane with a top speed of 160 knots and an unpressurized cabin. The range is 9 hours at 120 knots and it takes four days. But what an adventurous trip - fly from South Pole to the Antarctic Peninsula then across the Drake Passage, then up South and North America. This plane will then be put into North Pole service.

A cool looking British plane. This Twin Otter just left too. They spend a more leisurely time of 12 days to fly north of Calgary. 
What an adventure - flying from the South Pole to Canada!

Flying under 10,000 feet gives quite the world view.

Huge sledges.

The world's most southern airport - NPX. I wonder if there were an airport at the North Pole if the designation would be SPX. I don't know what the FAA was thinking.

On my return from the radomes this afternoon my goggles fogged so I lifted them just enough to see. Once back at the station I saw that the exhaust fan on top had frozen solid even though I had the fan on the high setting. Um - that's cold!

This CAT tractor stands by during flight operations hitched to the two sledges containing fire fighting foam.

The name of the CAT is "Elephant Man".

My wife would be proud. I volunteered to work in the dishpit for a few hours.

It was lasagna night so you can imagine the pan scrubbing.