Thursday, September 26, 2013

Working on the GOES antenna

 The following work was done in early September.

The GOES antenna elevation drive motor failed recently and required replacement. The ambient temperature was -95 F and the windchill -135 F. The temperature inside the radome was the same as outside. We had three others helping us. It worked out well utilizing two teams. While one team was working the other was warming up in the heated GOES RF shack located inside the radome.

The ice is pretty thick inside the radome.

The GOES antenna elevation motor and gear reducer drive the large greased jackscrew which then moves the elevation. The elevation only drives up to about 5.5 degrees for a pass. The motor to the right is for azimuth.

To remove the motor the 10 meter antenna had to be stabilized since there is no elevation brake. This was accomplished with two 6 ton cable pulley winches with each one attached to a strap and then to the antenna.
Both Pulleys set up. I'm on the right. Photo credit: Kris

Here the left cable and strap are attached to the antenna. Extremely difficult procedure even if it wasn't cold.

This is the drive shelter that we worked in. It is heated but with the roof panels propped open for the strap attachment it quickly became cold inside.

We took turns warming up in the GOES antenna Radio Frequency (RF) shed. This shed in the radome contains the RF equipment required to operate the GOES system. It is maintained at 72 F. Photo credit: Kris
Two straps holding up the 6 ton load. The antenna end of the elevation jackscrew. Photo credit: Kris

The used replacement motor and gear reducer. The tag on it read "tested good 2008". It works great fortunately!

The view out the radome door. Photo credit: Kris

The GOES antenna radome. Photo credit: Kris

The crane and bucket outside the station didn't get much use this winter.

It was a long two days working out at the GOES radome. Internet is back up!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Run to the Sun

Today, September 17th, was the perfect day to start running outside again. The temperature was a pleasant -64 F and the light wind kept the windchill right under -100 F. For the most part the surface was hard packed and the drifts made for some fun hill running. And of course visibility was high with the glowing daylight! After five months of darkness this was so needed. I was outside for 70 minutes but my layering and strategically placed heat packets kept me warm.  

The sun refraction near the South Pole Telescope (SPT). This day the sun was 1.2 degrees below the horizon. At mid-winter (Winter Solstice New Zealand June 21) the sun was 23.5 degrees below and started the return.


I played with the color saturation for this interesting view.

Martin A Pomerantz Observatory (MAPO) with sastrugi in the foreground. Sastrugi is really cool looking: 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.

MAPO radio telescopes.

Almost a full moon.

It felt great to be running outside again!

This side of the station entrance is called DA. The observation deck is on the 2nd floor. To the right is the gym. To the left is the moon.

The drifts were heavy this winter.

The DA stairs. At the beginning of winter it was flat under the station and to the left. Now there is quite a climb to hike to the South Pole marker.

The back of the station showing all the wings with the emergency exits. Gym on the left. The emergency wing (which has a self contained evacuation pod) is to the right of that. In front of that wing is the emergency fuel tank for the emergency generator in the pod and the manual fed ice melter for emergency water.

This is the DZ entrance. The boxes that line both sides hold all the recyclables and food waste. I live in the A1 wing on the right. My room is on the opposite side with a 2nd floor unobstructed view of the polar plain.

The station can be lifted when the snow fills in over time. Pictured are two of the lifting supports.

DZ entrance on the first deck. The second deck leads to the galley. Food is stored on this deck. 

Stairs leading to the entrance.

DZ door on the left.

Saturday September 21, 2013 Sunrise!

I was running outside 4 days this week. Earlier in my run the sun was hidden behind the horizon clouds. In the foreground is IceCube Lab which captures and studies neutrinos bombarding the planet.

On my last lap the sun was visible.

Our future is very bright!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

South Pole Medical Center and a refraction sunrise

Jocelyn's and my new book has been published! Our new website is from which the book can be purchased with links to CreateSpace (an Amazon publishing company) and Amazon. It will soon be out on eBooks also. Hint - We get a larger royalty from CreateSpace!

The United States Antarctic Program (USAP) contracts to the University of Texas Medical Board (UTMB) for all medical requirements including National Science Foundation (NSF) mandated deployment Physical Qualifying and medical services at McMurdo, South Pole, and Palmer (on the Antarctic peninsula) stations. Club Med is staffed by a physician and a physician's assistant (PA). 
Club Med

The South Pole Medical Center has a very clean, modern and efficient layout.

To the upper left are the surgical lights and below that is the X-Ray scanning computer. Scans are sent directly to UTMB in Texas for analysis.

All of the Antarctic physicians and PAs are usually given dental training. Unfortunately the current Pole physician and PA did not receive this training due to time constraints. Earlier this season I had a tooth break off at the gum line. I planned on getting this tooth removed by the McMurdo dentist when I travel through in November. But due to budget cuts there will be no summer dentist in McMurdo. An appointment has been arranged to have this tooth removed in Christchurch. It is not really painful, but annoying, and I don't want to fly home to Florida in this condition.

Along with the physician and PA there are seven of us on the medical trauma emergency team. We receive weekly training on trauma with once a month drills. This training will be very valuable on my upcoming bicycle tour. Every winter Polie is on one of the four Emergency Response Teams (ERTs)

A two bed hospital room complete with TV and VCR hanging on the opposite wall. There is a small patient on the right bed.

Portable X-Ray machine.

The lower black portion extends out and over the patient. A reusable film plate captures the image. This is then scanned, image sent to UTMB, then erased for the next job.
Every few weeks we have pizza on Saturday nights. Our excellent chef makes a delicious sourdough crust. This night all the vegetables on this vegetarian pizza were freshly harvested from the greenhouse.

This is the best pizza I have ever had. I really like the goat cheese.

The drift has buried the station sign legs. The snow has blown hundreds of miles over the polar plateau this winter.
In the distance are the RF building on the left, then the GOES and Skynet radome, and the SPTR radome - my work areas. In the foreground are various cargo berms.

Our flag is still flying. All directions point north!

The future is bright in this refraction sunrise taken on Monday September 16th at 3 am. The South Pole is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

The view from my exercise bike in the gym.