Geoff Sims @ UNSW
Home South Pole Diaries 2012/13 14th January, 2013


Monday, 14th January, 2013

Not bored yet (John)

Well at least they brought our Twin Otter back today. Our cargo is (still) neatly lined up on the flight line and ready to go tomorrow morning, but the longer we wait the more stuff we keep adding to it and eventually the plane will be too heavy to get off the ground. Let's hope it's all in Ridge A by tomorrow night.

In addition to our Twin Otter, a Basler DC3 arrived from the German Alfred Wegner Institute. They are on their way from Kohnen Station to Dome C with various pieces of scientific gear, and are stopping over to enjoy a night's hospitality at Pole. Because they are part of a national Antarctic program, we'll put them up at the Station rather than making them sleep outside on the snow. The Antarctic Treaty is a wondrous thing.

An AWI researcher calibrates a gravitometer before their next flight tomorrow.

The German Basler has been heavily modified for scientific experiments.

Like the Hercules LC130, the Basler can land on either skis or wheels. In fact, the rear wheel is all there is at the back.

During lunch it was a beautiful, crystal-clear blue sky so we decided to gather up the whole Ridge A team and take some "hero" shots at both the Ceremonial South Pole and the geographical South Pole. Geoff set up his tripod and amazing automatic timer to take some superb photos with his Canon SLR.

By the time we got our act together, it had clouded over a bit.

Sucks to be Scott.

One of the 12 flags at the ceremonial pole carries a small plaque,

in memory of Rodney Marks, UNSW PhD student, who died here during the winter of 2000.

After our photo-shoot we all headed off in different directions to finish the few remaining tasks yet to be done. One problem we know we'll encounter at Ridge A when we swap the engines over is trying to shove the cold, hard rubber tubes for oil and fuel back onto the fittings - a difficult task at best. Daniel has come up with a clever way to heat the tubes: a copper block that we will preheat on the stove, and which has holes drilled for each size of pipe. We'll insert the end of the tube, wait till it's warm, then, Hey Presto!

We just wanted Steele to grab a bit of metal and drill some holes in it but, hey, this guy is a real professional.

Good machinists are worth their weight in gold. (I think I already mentioned that...) The fibreglass handle stops us burning our little fingers.

Later in the day I was wiring up some cables in the MAPO building when Vladimir Papitashvili (Director of Antarctic Aeronomy & Astrophysics at the NSF Office of Polar Programs) arrived with Scott Parazynski, former NASA astronaut, and Dr. Polly Penhale, NSF Environmental Officer & acting NSF Medical Director. They spent half an hour looking over the PLATO engines and the HEAT experiment, and asked a lot of very sensible questions.

Vladimir Papitashvili (left) and Scott Parazynski (right) check out the HEAT receivers.

After dinner, Scott Parazynski treated the Station to a surprise slide presentation on his life as an astronaut, which included five Space Shuttle missions and trips to the International Space Station. He's also climbed Everest. You meet some really interesting people in Antarctica.


Back to South Pole Diaries 2012/13