Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

After an early start Sunday morning*, we rode in a Delta out to LDB, just like last Sunday. This time it didn't seem nearly as cold--maybe it was actually warmer or maybe I'm just getting used to the cold. It feels kind of repetitive, but we continued on with our work of calibrating the instrument (JohnE and I worked on where to set our high voltages most of the day) and preparing the thermal insulation layer.

The outermost layer of our thermal insulation is, as I mentioned yesterday, a layer of thin aluminized mylar.  Dana, Sean and Frank spent most of the day working on this, and got things finished for one module. This will reflect a large amount of the heat and light from the sun, making sure that we keep the instrument at the temperatures we want during flight.

It also makes the payload shiny.

We very much appreciate the flexibility of our BLAST colleagues for letting us use some of their precious payload building space to finish the mylar layer.

In the afternoon, we had our first bit of interesting weather. The sky got overcast and the wind picked up and the visibility got pretty bad, but we still did not get an official change from "Condition 3", which means that it was still considered safe to go outside. It certainly looked ominous, but ended up clearing up again before it was time to go back to McMurdo.

Every Sunday night in the cafeteria in McMurdo there is a talk by a scientist on station on the work that they are doing down here. This week, we heard from a member of the WISSARD project. They will be drilling down into a sub-glacial lake below the Antarctic Ice Sheet to study the water and area deep underneath the ice sheet. They have to drill down through over 3 kilometers of ice, and will be testing their drilling equipment out near the LDB site in the next several weeks. While there is a team of Russian scientists attempting similar science out at Lake Vostok (which is the size of Lake Ontario, but under ~3700 meters of ice), and they've gotten a lot of attention, but this project is going to be happening on another lake, which is closer to McMurdo and near the route taken by the South Pole Traverse team, which drives fuel and other supplies down to the South Pole station.

*I got up early to watch my alma mater, Northwestern, find another new and exciting way to lose a football game despite being ahead in the final seconds. I probably should have just stayed asleep.

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