Geoff Sims @ UNSW
Home South Pole Diaries 2012/13 6th January, 2013


Sunday, 6th January, 2013

Sunday at South Pole. (John)

Today is a day of rest (the station works a six-day week), so we took things fairly quietly, too. In the morning I discovered the UNSW team in a darkened computer lab, contemplating bright computer screens.

The UNSW team ponder the mysteries of the universe, as revealed electronically.

After brunch we made the 1 km walk out to our tent beside the MAPO building and worked our way through the various tasks.

The two engines we will take to Ridge A, positioned on the floor in the same way they will be placed in the PLATO engine module. This was a useful exercise, and resulted in a small amount of swearing and a considerable amount of work with a bandsaw.

Nic modifies the new PLATO contactor board, while Geoff gives advice. The shipping crate makes a nice cubby house.

Actually, the band-sawing and all of other mechanical work is being done for us by Steele, who is the Astrophysics machinist during the summer. We'll introduce you to Steele shortly. Hanging around in the machine shop I am reminded that steel (the metal, not the person) can become very brittle in the extreme low temperatures of Antarctica. Here Daniel is holding part of the tow-bar from a bulldozer, what broke.

I suspect this made quite a bang when it broke.

A close up of the brittle fracture.

Later in the afternoon we all met in one of the conference rooms while Craig led us through the details of the deployment to Ridge A at the end of the week. If all goes well we will have five Twin Otter flights, spread over 7 days. Planning the deployment is complex; we are limited in space and volume on each flight, and ensuring each person and each piece of equipment is where it needs to be throughout that week is crucial.

Unfortunately much of Craig's equipment is still in Christchurch, waithing for a flight to McMurdo then down to us.

Dr Craig Kulesa looking statesman-like.

From this angle, some aspects of the plan are starting to look a bit implausible.

I can't remember what Daniel was laughing at here, but I think it was the video clip of the Twin Otter attempting to take off again from Ridge_A (successfully as it turns out).


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