Sensors, sensors everywhere, and lots of snow to dig

2019 Mar 21st

A day of rest, sort of...

We work six days a week down here, with Sunday off. The day started with the much-loved Sunday Brunch. The brunch lived up to its billing. The Galley was a little more festive looking, and the range of foods was substantial and very tasty. At 1:00 the galley was turned over to the Craft Fair. Lots of the folks have been down here since last February. Over the dark winter months many of them build up a large stock of craft projects, which they sell at the big craft fair. After the craft fair we got a tour of the research aquariums. They have all kinds of stuff, including these 4 to 5 foot long fish, which are a distant cousin of Chilean Sea Bass. 

Marine biologists at work . . . 

Then I checked out a fat tire bike and rode over the hill to Scott Base, and continued out onto the Ross Ice Shelf to Williams Air Field (“Willy Field” as it is called here). 

Ice road trucking, Antarctic style, on the fat tire bike. Castle Rock is the large dark outcrop on the skyline.

I dig it...again!

Today was spent installing some sensors, and removing others, out at the Castle Rock test site. Lots of digging in the snow! We took a “Mattrack” pickup truck to get out there - a nicer ride than the Pisten Bully. (Check out those cool "tires"!)

Some of the sensors were installed in “vaults” made by covering the hole with plywood. These were pretty easy to dig up. Here we are adding a third sensor. Kevin is checking that the tile is level before installing a sensor.

Time for field notes.

This sensor was buried without a vault and was about 7 feet deep. Unlike the picture from several days ago, I am not kneeling. But it was a gorgeous day for digging. The fog rolled in and we could only see 100 yards or so. Then the fog rolled out and we had beautiful blue skies.

This and that

Today we had a quick trip out to the Castle Rock test site to reconfigure some systems. Well, not really so quick. We had a Pisten Bully for this trip, and on the dirt roads of town as well as the icy road out to the test site the top speed is about 5 mph. In this photo the view is back towards McMurdo and if you zoom in you can see the flag line running off into the distance. This flag line also serves as the Castle Rock Loop hiking/biking/skiing trail.

We quickly accomplished the work at the test site and then went back to McMurdo where I spent some time rewiring connector panels from old deployment boxes to get them ready for a different configuration for the next deployment.

After work it was time to hike to the top of Observation Hill (“Ob Hill”). Ob Hill is quite a distinctive feature and offers a fabulous view of the surroundings - you look down on McMurdo in one direction, and look out over the Ross Ice Shelf in the other. And when you go on a hike there is no need to worry about getting back before dark.

Selfie time! Right on the top of the peak the wind was blowing pretty well, which increased the wind chill (and thus my semi-frozen appearance). Off the peak was just fine and it was a beautiful evening. Scott Base is in the background - the green buildings on the point to the right of my head. The expanse of ice is the Ross Ice Shelf. The sort of “wrinkle” running across the ice, just behind Scott Base is the pressure ridge feature where I went on the “Pressure Ridge Tour” last week.