South Pole Diaries 1995    


20th January 1995

From Michael Ashley.....

John and I are scheduled to spend 2 weeks at the South Pole beginning Jan 26, as guests of CARA (the Center for Astronomical Research in Antarctica, based at Yerkes Observatory in the US). The reason for the trip is to install new equipment associated with the IRPS and microthermal experiments that were successfully operated at the Pole during 1994 by CARA scientist John Briggs. These experiments were installed by Michael Burton and Jamie Lloyd (an Honours student at UNSW at the time) during a trip to the Pole in February last year. Jamie is now employed by CARA as one of three scientists who are wintering-over at the Pole during 1995.

Our plans for this trip include:

* disassembling IRPS and installing several new filters
* installing a computer-controlled liquid nitrogen filling system and ion-pump for IRPS
* testing the balloon phase of the microthermal experiment, in collaboration with Jean Vernin of the Universite de Nice, who will meet us at the Pole.

In addition, we are carrying a state-of-the-art Sony Hi-8 video camera to record our exploits for a 27 minute documentary film being produced by the Audio-Visual Unit of UNSW.

OK, enough of the preliminary stuff.

It is the day before we leave for Christchurch and we are frantically trying to get all our equipment ready. Several crucial items are still being couriered to us. The couriers go on strike at 12pm, but alternative arrangements are made. Meanwhile, Eddie Lyon in the mechanical workshop is putting the finishing touches on the nitrogen filling wands. Two couplings that he needs arrive at 4pm, just in time to be silver-soldered to the wands. John is testing the assembly of the nitrogen fittings. I am testing the computer control of the solenoids. This sort of last-minute panic seems to be a feature of instrumentation work. By midnight we are satisfied that we have done our best, and we catch some sleep.