South Pole Diaries 2000/01



Monday 29th January 2001

From Andre.....

Hi Guys,

...from 89 59' 39.6", AASTO Country. We departed MCM early this morning and the flight was pleasant and uneventful. This afternoon I've been getting myself organised* and this evening visited the AASTO (*for instance, now all imported laptops need to be virus sanitized before use). With the use of butane as new TEG refrigerant, I was perhaps a little more cautious than usual opening the AASTO door. In fact there was quite a pong inside but I think this was nothing more than the good ol' AASTO Pong, amplified somewhat by having the building shut up for some time. The smell vented off OK. There is also currently a disconcerting noise coming from the worn (disintegrating?) bearings of a small fan which Ed Pernic has set up. Presumably this is the one for which we brought down a spare.

Things inside the AASTO look good, but perhaps a little more cramped than usual. The surrounding snow level has built up to such a degree that it's a safe bet that the building will bury during this coming winter, unless it is raised, or the local surface level lowered. I forecast a ski-ramp will form fore-and-aft of the AASTO, and the underneath will fill in. Of course this may not matter if we intend to move it next year, and we have access to heavy equipment to assist with digging it out. As most of us are aware, the culprit is the current upwind location of the G-Tower.

The Pole Station has undergone quite a makeover this year and the new Pole elevated building is an impressive structure. Likewise the Dome is a pleasantly quiet place now that the power plant moved out. The weather is pleasant and flight schedule nominal. There is very slow LES-9 comms (i.e. via a 33kb modem for the whole station) from about 7:30-00:00 (NZDST), but from about 00:00-07:00, Marisat and TDRSS kick in with mind-boggling bit rates.

My new tiny hand-held GPS works surprisingly well, and indeed its estimate for the position of the South Pole exactly coincided with the Pole Marker. If one moves away from the marker by more than a metre of so, the latitude figure reads something less than 90 00' 00.0". Incidentally this beaut new Andre Toy also incorporates an accurate barometer, and right now the ambient pressure measurement reads 691hPa. So far I haven't had any pressure-related physio concerns, and hope that tomorrow with be 'business-as-usual'.

Today was the last day for 'Science Retro' [cargo] so any junk now goes back as Hold Baggage. One of the disadvantages with coming in so late in the season.

That's the brief goss' for the moment. I'll now walk back to the Dome and return to the AASTO at midnight. Last evening MCM's internet link went out for the whole evening, so you may have just received a slightly dated MCM email from me.

I can see a squillion little jobs which need doing, but that's definitely a consideration for tomorrow. Bob Pernic is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

Back at midnight.


Coming Soon!