Thursday, March 28, 2013

An LMC class and almost sunset station pictures and a few questions

I attended a class on the Logan Motor Company (LMC) polar tracked vehicle. Last winter in McMurdo I was one of the town's Pisten Bully drivers. The winter South Pole vehicle of choice is the LMC from Canada. Produced in the 1980's it is still going strong here. Whereas the Pisten Bully (from Germany) drives with a wheel the LMC drives with two throttle control levers. It is also a lot more fun (and more challenging) to drive.

This is what frost nip looks like - white (in the photo yellow) and waxy. In this instance I had three layers of gloves on and this is the only finger that was affected as I have damaged this area before. It really hurts when the nerves start thawing.

A very windy day. The wind chills are under -120 degF now. The sun has set and it is getting dark now. I am a few weeks behind in my posts.

There are a lot of snack foods on station.

The Polies will eat it. I draw the line at four year old Cheetos though. They get pretty greasy.

Preparing for my Logan Motor Company (LMC) tracked vehicle class. The LMC is driven with the levers near my leg.

Each throttle lever controls a track. To turn left the right lever can be pushed forward while the left lever is moved back. It is basically a tank.

This LMC was made in the 1980s.

I felt like I was on the movie set of "The Thing"!

Super fun to drive although the visibility wasn't very good.

Back home it would be fun to drive an LMC on the beach. Donuts for sure!

Class is over, opening the garage door.

Nicely parked.
I'm still running outside. Although I met my match last Sunday at -86 degF ambient with a windchill of -122 degF.

A 1/2 Sundog from my room window.

The Ceremonial South Pole four days before sunset at 1 am.

My reflection on the Ceremonial South Pole silver ball.

Old Glory flying proudly at the South Pole.

The last day the station basked in the sun. The next day the sun on the opposite side created a 2 mile long shadow.

The ice is ablaze.
A few questions from a neighbor. Thanks Bruce.

1.What thoughts are going thru your and others minds as the sun disappears for 6 months?

It's going to be a long, long, winter. It is a struggle to be confined in the station and to see only darkness. I did it last winter in McMurdo but this time at the Pole it will be two months longer. I have plenty of work and the gym and reading is my passion. Every once in a while the internet works well so I keep in touch with family and friends through email and Facebook.

2.How warm is your room as the bitter cold sets in? Do you have a thermostat you can 
control it? 

Each room has a thermostat. The rooms are vented with 55 degF air. I have yet to get my room above 65 so it is a little cool.

3. Where is the warmest place to be on the station?

The galley and dining area. Currently outside the ambient is -88.5 degF with a windchill of -122 degF.

4. Do the same scientists return from one year to the next? Who has the record for most
time at the station?

The power plant technician and two of the science guys have 9 winters. The record is 3 in a row.

5. With the concentrated magnetic field during auroral storms does anybody have a 
short wave radio or AM/FM radio to see what radio stations you can pick up? Do they
have a ham radio station there?

There is an emergency ham radio station along with emergency HF radio. I don't know if anyone uses the ham radio for recreational purposes.

6. And finally, if you can even mention it, have the SPT guys gotten any photos of 
Planet X / Nibiru lately? 

I'll have to check with the science guys on this. The telescopes here are radio and not optical.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

First salad, sundog, and flagging the cargo berms

The South Pole Growth Chamber (greenhouse) produces! My first salad in 7 weeks.

And with endamenes!

A sundog is a natural phenomena that occurs when the air is filled with ice crystals and the sun is low on the horizon. The reflection produces 'dogs' on both side of the sun at 22 degrees and connected by a halo. They can be much more prominent that this but this is the first one I've seen here.

I never thought retirement could be so much fun! A winter chore is too flag the cargo berms with bamboo poles so that when summer arrives we can find the cargo berms again.

Hand auguring into the ice is really tough.

The doc and I were "the old guys" team. We dragged the sledge filled with bamboo poles and set them every 20 paces.

I really do enjoy getting outside for these volunteer jobs. I felt like an old Antarctic explorer.

A nice two hour diversion from my work.

I ran to the end of the LC-130 Ski-way Sunday morning.

The end of the world - a vast South Pole desert. This could be the surface of a distant planet.

The South Pole Station as seen from the end of the Ski-way.

My jogging attire. A few more clothes than my beach runs at home. Inside my shoes are full length shoe warmers along with toe warmers on the top and bottom of my toes and covered with another sock. Probably one of the more unique places to run in the world.
Game room.

Pool, Foosball, bar, darts, lots of board games, and the paperback section of the library.

The TV lounge...

where VHS is king!

The laundry room. No quarters required.

Soap and dryer sheets provided.

Lettuce going strong.

We just had our second salad.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Station Tour Part 2

Part 2 of the tour starts in the Vehicle Maintenance Facility which is next door to the power plant.

The sun will set on Saturday March 23rd. 

And will rise in 6 months. Pictures taken on March 20th at 1 am.

The ceremonial South Pole.

In the Vehicle Maintenance Facility

A Logan Motor Company (LMC). This is the Canadian version of the German Pisten Bully.

This version seats 4 in the cab and is driven by a two throttle levers for speed and direction.

One of the Dark Sector offices. Do you think there are enough monitors? I counted 8.

It is quite a walk to the main station so there is a bed available in the office. The Rack looks a little difficult to access.

Messy science guys.

The station manager drove us around in this LMC that seats 4 in the front and another 4-6 in the back.

The South Pole Telescope was scanning the skies.

The IceCube Lab a $270 million project to study Neutrinos. Part of the Neutrino Telescope.

I wrote about IceCube on a previous post. There are 86 drilled holes up to 1.2 miles deep each containing a string of 60 Digital Optical Modules each.
IceCube drill camp 2009.

A Digital Optical Module (DOM). There are 5,160 DOMs buried and encased in ice to capture neutrinos.

The locations of some of the holes.

To the left of the meteorological station flags mark one of the 86 holes.

Each string of 60 DOMs has cables running up out of the ice into the computer server room of the lab. There are 86 computer servers in the lab.

On the far side of the radomes. Station to the right.

The Vehicle Maintenance Facility, Power plant, and logistics storage area are built under corrugated steel arches. The leftovers are stored here.

The leftover pieces turned into an art project.

Spoolhenge - The Antarctic's version of Stonehenge with leftover cable spools. There used to be 86 of these cable spools as they stored the cables that hold the DOMs in the ice holes of the IceCube Project.

This area of fuel tanks is called "The End of the World".

Inside the current Rodwell (water well) #3. On a previous post I explained how the South Pole generates water.

This water well is currently at 284 feet melting ice (with hot water) in a huge reservoir and pumping out the water for station use.

The water well rig.

Rodwell #3.

On the right is Rodwell #2. To the left is the station where raw sewage is pumped into the old well.

The arched Vehicle Maintenance Facility, Logistics, and the Power Plant.

Filling up the LMC at the end of the tour. The shadows are getting long.
I recently celebrated another birthday on ice. My friend Will, on the left, posted this picture from last winter on the galley televisions scroll. The guy added in on the upper left is an inside joke.