Antarctic Astronomy Diaries 2003/04


05 December 2003
08 December 2003
11 December 2003
12 December 2003
13 December 2003
14 December 2003
15 December 2003
19 December 2003
20 December 2003
23 December 2003
24 December 2003
25 December 2003
29 December 2003
30 December 2003
31 December 2003
01 January 2004
03 January 2004
04 January 2004
07 January 2004
08 January 2004
12 January 2004
14 January 2004
16 January 2004
18 January 2004
19 January 2004
22 January 2004
25 January 2004
26 January 2004
27 January 2004
29 January 2004
30 January 2004
01 February 2004
03 February 2004

Monday, January 19, 2004


The A team is now ready to work. The first lunch enjoyed by my two
companions was mainly made memorable by Colin's discovery of the ice cream
machine. Very enthusiastic of having free ice-cream any time he wants, he
armed himself with a bowl and a spoon even before the beginning of the lunch
and after making his mind on the coffee flavored one, pulled down the handle
and splattered liquid cream all over himself (just after he did his laundry
if my memory is right). This is what happens to newly arrived people who don
't ask permission! The bit of knowledge he didn't have was that the machine
was empty and turned off.

After this rather promising start, we got Colin working on the AASTINO's
circuitry, chaining him to the desk in case he got the idea to run and get
more ice-cream, while Jon reenacted the scene in Rambo where Stallone packs
himself with all the gears of destruction he can carry. The only exception
was that instead of knifes, he filled his belt with spanners and he replaced
the gun by a power drill (just as scary if you stand too close). His mission
(as read to him by the general) was to replace Sid by Jim. It was not a
story of puppet regime but an exchange of engine. If anyone can guess why we
chose the name Jim, please contact us and you will have the chance to win an
angle grinder and lots of coffee ice-cream.

Left in the middle, trying not to walk on a chip or a screwdriver, I took
the aluminium boxes I made for the batteries and equipped them with the
resistances and circuit boards that they had brought with them. It was a
satisfying job because I could do it sitting while Jon spent the day on his
back removing pipes and avoiding repeating with glycol Colin's adventure
with ice-cream. It is good to work with a team where everyone knows what
they are supposed to do and does it very well. Colin is very good at
electronics, Jon is very good at pluming and I am an excellent janitor. I am
saying that because I spent a big part of the afternoon cutting through
insulation foam and as you can expect made so much mess that I ended up
vacuuming the whole building, probably swallowing a few resistors and nuts
and the process.

On Sunday morning another event forced me out of bed early. In fact it was a
double event. At ten o'clock were scheduled two Twin-Otters. The first one
coming from DDU was carrying the final part of our instruments. This was
great timing considering we had done again everything we could have done
without it. The second one was coming from Casey, one of the Australian
bases on the coast of Antarctica. It was just stopping at Dome C to refuel
on its way to Mc Murdo. As I understood it, they were going there to see how
the Americans deal with the landing strips for large planes. Next year, the
Australian bases with be accessible from Hobart by plane and they probably
want to make sure this year that they will have a nice surface to land on.

The two planes arrived literally at the same time, landing one after the
other in front of a rather small crowed (Sunday morning.). We shook a few
hands, took a few pictures and stood in front of the cargo to see if our
boxes were there. As soon as we found them we took a skidoo with a trailer
and drove everything to the AASTINO. We then opened everything madly like I
it was Christmas (although it was the third arrival of cargo for me so it
felt more like the opening of a letter from the tax office). On our way back
we made the enormous mistake to let Colin drive the skidoo. With the three
of us sitting on this tiny vehicle made for two we often got close to tilt
it over and dive heads first in the snow.

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