Antarctic Astronomy Diaries 2003/04


01 January 2004
03 January 2004
04 January 2004
05 January 2004
06 January 2004
07 January 2004
08 January 2004
09 January 2004
10 January 2004
11 January 2004
12 January 2004
13 January 2004
14 January 2004
15 January 2004
16 January 2004
17 January 2004
18 January 2004
21 January 2004

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Showers are soooooo good.

Hey all,

what a difference a day makes. This morning I stepped outside to blustery, iceblowing clouded conditions, less than eight hours since I'd last seen it. The wind makes an amazing amount of difference to the temperature that it 'feels' down here. On TV screens in the dining area it constantly updates the outside temperature, and then secondly the 'wind chill' temperature based on the windspeed. Today when I walked in for lunch, while the temp was -28C, around the same as yesterday, but with a 12 knot wind the windchill calculated the temperature at -50C. And you can really feel it.

The walk out to AASTO was chilly, and luckily the girls who were coming out to help me again pulled up along side halfway. And they had a snowmobile! This is almost the most fun you can have outside at Pole. I sat in the sled, behind the snowmobile, so that there's just half-centimetre thick plastic between you and the ice. The ride is bone-jarring, and its wise not to keep your teeth too close together but so close to the snow the speed is exhilarating, and behind my gaiter that covered my face I couldn't contain a grin. I hopped off, all business like I did this every day, and one of the girls said, "Its funny, you must do this real often, most beakers (scientists) have this big grin on their face when they get off the sled..." Yeah, well, sue me. :)

Again we had great progress today. We started at 7am, and by 10 all the cables were threaded inside. I had anothe visit from the support bosses, and we decided to try moving everything tomorrow. Their daytime cranedriver is on leave - as it's light 24hrs, there are three working shifts day, night and swing (which is half way between the two) and so the night cranedriver is unimpressed at having to do anything in the middle of his 'night'. Personally I agree as I don't want a sleepy, grumpy cranedriver swinging our telescopes around in the sky. So now they will do the move at 6:30am tomorrow. No sleep-ins for Jess.

The rest of the morning was used to move our 'webcamera-on-a-stick' inside, and while the girls went back to make a pallet to rest the telescopes on, I relocated everything in the AASTO so that it wouldn't relocate itself during the move. We also climbed up the tower, as someone started to finish off the excavation of the snow around it, and secured the telescopes so they wouldn't move during the lift. Up on the tower it was amazingly cold in the wind. In five minutes my fingers were blue, and my eyelashes had flaked ice on them. Another snowmobile ride back for lunch, absolutely no grinning this time, and I nearly fell asleep in my tapioca. I still don't know what that stuff is made of. They are turning the power off to the AASTO for a couple of hours this afternoon while they excavate around the building so I am going to catch up on my computer work.

Oh, and the talk went well last night. About thirty people, luckily not too many, and I seemed to bumble through ok. There was a nasty question about fuel cells, that I mumbled an answer to all the while having nearly zero idea what the real one was, but I was rescued by another engineer on the other side of the room who told the first guy that I was quite right and he was being ridiculous. Score one for Jess, master bull**** artist. I also took the opportunity of the talk to make myself presentable and have my first shower since I arrived. This sounds a bit skanky, but you are only allowed two two-minute showers a week here. This isn't as bad as it sounds, because you don't sweat as much due to the dryness of the air. I actually like it because it makes showers really exciting. Oh, wow, tonight is shower night, yay! And then you walk around feeling all clean and warm, you really appreciate warm water on your skin at Pole.

Hopefully I'll have some photos of the lift of the telescope for you to peruse tomorrow.


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