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


Sunday, 13th January, 2013

Sunday - again (John)

We didn't expect to see two Sundays at Pole, but here we are again. This one was even quieter than the last, presumably because a significant fraction of the Station are still sleeping off the effects of the Carp Shop party.

Brunch saw a group of adventurers arrive on skis, to be met by a Basler DC3 that, after much photography in front of the Ceremonial Pole, whisked them away again to warmer climes. A popular expedition now is to "Ski the Last Degree", which involves being dropped off by the Basler at 89 degrees South, from whence you ski the last 60 nautical miles to the Pole. The Station averages over one tourist group per week throughout the summer, and offers organized tours to the visitors.

Sunday is a good day to be a tourist.

Meanwhile, Craig and Abe were busy assembling the HEAT instrument with all the newly arrived bits and pieces. HEAT is a complete radio telescope, this year operating simultaneously on two frequencies: 492 GHz and 809 GHz. As Craig explains, that's a thousand times the frequency a mobile phone works at, and a thousand times less than the light you see. The multiplier chains, detectors and first IF amplifiers are cooled to 50 degrees above absolute zero by a mechanical refrigerator. The whole thing is a marvelous piece of engineering, requiring just 200 watts of electrical power.

The two receiver "front ends", looking very space age. The whole thing would fit in a bucket.

Craig (left) and Abe (right), wishing I'd stop taking photos and let them get back to work.

Not much else happened today. We finished up with the Sunday Science lecture in the galley, which was very well attended.

The flyer for our talk.

According to the flight schedule, they're bringing our Twin Otter back from McMurdo tomorrow, stopping off at a couple of field camps on the way. Apparently one of the camps has run out of some supplies, including toilet paper. If all goes well, we'll be loading up "CKB" (the registration number of our Twin Otter) first thing Tuesday.


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