Antarctic Astronomy Diaries 2002/03

   

   
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Saturday, December 14, 2002

Test Blog

This is a test. OK, I'm not in Antarctica, I'm in Sydney. It's 35 C in
the shade. However I am using my laptop, via Bluetooth to the mobile
phone, thence Optus GPRS to UNSW, across to the Blogger site, then
back to UNSW, and finally with any luck onto the South Pole
Diary Page.

I hope it's going to be this easy via Iridium.

John

like in a boat

14 Dec 02 - Paolo G. Calisse

The working day began with a huge forklift coming to get the SUMMIT and moving it to the Cargo. The transport was so slow - the distance between the AASTO and Cargo is about a chilometer - that I arrived much earlier than the crawler. I filled some papers with all the details of the transport.

You have to declare if your equipment is FNG, KUR or maybe also DNF. In the case of the SUMMIT, I preferred OTF.

Yes, the SUMMIT is Ok To Freeze, and it must be Kept Up Right, and it's also Fragile. People at cargo was kind and helpfull as usual and in five minute I got the SUMMIT ready to leave.

After that I gently got back to the AASTO. Fortunately I spot the shadow (?) van. The van is a car with a driver waiting for anyone going anywhere. It is a sort of bus with oversized wheels, the kind of thing you see only in some funny programs on sunday afternoon. Inside is warm and there is a CD reader playing music.

You just ask if it is available and get the ride. Usually you see it at the opposite side of the station, but this last few days I'be been lucky and got it several time. After that, I spent the day adjusting the talk for tomorrow. I will share with Michael a talk about the future project of our group, in particular at Dome C, the French/Italian station where I went last year and two years ago.

After that we spent the Sunday in some little and smooth activities: fixing the time of the webcams Michael, packing some little things me.

After lunch I got back to the AASTO, to work again on the talk and on some paper I have urgently to submit otherwise I'll be banned from any Australian University, and enjoy the solitude of the place. Looking toward on site, I noticed that on one of the 4 bulk beds there was only my parka, a monitor, a keyboard and a computer. I removed the monitor and the keyboard and put them on the other bed, and after having adjusted the parka as a pillow, I spent all the afternoon horizontally, working at the presentation, reading and replying e-mail, sleeping, thinking, with the laptop gently on my legs.

Everything was perfect. From the little window of the AASTO was getting inside a warm sunlight. Time by time I was looking out at the station brighten by the sun, with several cimnery smoking silently. I feel like the cold and the wind were kind to leave me stay there.

The window slightly dirty given me the impression to stay in a little boat floating on a milk river. You know those strange moment in which everything is going fine. I was even not urging to go to the toilet. I put the lapton borrowed by the station help-desk (thank again guys!) on my legs and continued working at the gentle noise of the G-MOUNT hard disk drive close to break-down, with the Beatles, or Bob Marley as a soundtrack.

I decided that tonight, I mean, this winter, I'll try to spend some time sleeping on the AASTO. It's warm, quiet, cosy and comfortable. Actually, during the winter maybe it is all those things except the first one...

Town Meeting

South Pole Diary, Saturday 14/12/02

The big happening on station today was the Town Meeting. This is an occasion where all inhabitants ("all-hands" as we're termed) gather together to exchange notices and news. I was curious as to what this would entail, and who exactly would crawl out of the woodwork. Since many people on station work shifts you never get to see many folk at Pole. The event must certainly be one of the most unusual town gatherings in the world, given the rather unusual backgrounds of polies. The gathering was in the new garage, a huge, enclosed warm space which must just about be big enough to hold a Herc - and the first thing to be completed in the new station.

The big news was to hear about the progress on the new station. In a few weeks time we'll be moving to the new galley (except its not called that anymore - there is now some politically correct word for galley that no-one can quite remember!). When this happens all power to the galley will be turned off, and it will be allowed to freeze! So the final few days of the galley are upon us. When Jon Everett arrives in January he may be eating in an entirely new space-age setting, and the old galley but a fond, distant memory. Indeed, enough of the new station is expected to be open by winter that many of the winter crew can move into it!

We had reports on how much power we're using (too much - turn those lights off!) and a league table of water use per dorm building - designed to shame us into using less water! We learnt about the holiday timetable for the Xmas season (News Years Day will be celebrated on December 29th - and no-one seemed perturbed - and I wasn't brave enough to put my hand up and ask why!). We learnt about the Round the World Race, which will take place on Xmas Day. We were given the rules regarding use of vehicles (it appears that anything goes). However the official winner has to run round the world on foot. And for the efforts they win a free trip to McMurdo - to compete in the Scott's Hut race late in Jan. It seems that there are not too many polies who actually want to win a trip to McMurdo!

On a more serious note we got to hear that the new station (or the SPSM - South Pole Station Modernisation) is being regarded by NSF and their funding masters as akin to the development of the International Space Station. So we all felt privileged to be a part of it as it starts to become a reality. This program started 4 years ago (when I was last at Pole), and is not due for completion until 2007. A huge new structure has arisen in those past 4 years from the snow outside of the Dome, and eventually will replace it, and, hopefully easy the overcrowding problem we have. The current station was designed for about 40 people, and at the peak of summer there are around 230 people here, so it can get a little crowded around town at times!

As far as our work goes, Paolo and I basically finished it, and so spent most of the day looking around, writing letters etc. In the morning the fork-lift driver came out to gently ease the SUMMIT off the route of the AASTO, and by lunchtime it was on its way to McMurdo. We expect it to be at Dome C by Wednesday! We had three other boxes to send, all going to different addresses, so there were a few forms to fill in with Cargo to sort it all out, but basically that's it - we're ready to go, after our science talk tomorrow night!

Michael

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