Thursday, January 8, 2015

Equipment Flight to SuperTIGER: January 8, 2015

Today I woke up early and walked over to the elevated station so I could catch the last 15 minutes or so of the good internet before breakfast. At breakfast, we talked with Henry, the Twin Otter pilot, and arranged to meet him at the plane with all of the cargo that we wanted to go to SuperTIGER at 8:30. Sean and I went over to the cargo department to pick up some tanks of propane, and then I got a sled and pulled them over to the plane while Sean got to work on the snowmobile that was going on the Twin Otter. Dana helped me get the propane to the plane, and then we went back to where our cargo was located (about 50 yards from the plane) and loaded the sled back up.  We took two sled loads of gear over, and I wrote down and calculated the total weight. Once the flight crew was ready, Henry drove the snowmobile up the ramp into the plane door and the rest of us grabbed the skis and helped lift and push it into the plane. Then we filled the plane with all of the rest of the gear, and the plane taxied off to fuel up.

We checked in with the SuperGroom team and got an update from them. While we were on the phone, the Twin Otter took off. Once we were done with that, we went back to the game room on the main station, and were there when another group of tourists came through the building on a tour. Since some of the things on the tour were things we didn’t know about the station (we were basically given a map and had our Hypertat pointed out to us), we decided to tag along. We went on the second half of the tour, and talked to some of the tour group. The weirdest part was when one of them asked what time it was, and there was some confusion. Because the tour groups tend to come from Chile, they stay on Chilean time. Amundsen-Scott station, since it’s resupplied from McMurdo, is on New Zealand time. So while on station it was Thursday morning, to the tour group it was Wednesday night. Time zones at the South Pole are arbitrary anyway , but it was weird to see it pointed out.

After the tour was over, it was lunch time. Lunch was one of the best meals I’ve had in weeks—burgers hand-made from ground beef (McMurdo has mediocre pre-made burgers) with bacon and cheese. There were also milkshakes, which were probably very thick at the beginning of lunch but by the time we got there were kind of runny, but very very delicious.

After lunch, Dana and I took a nap while Sean went to help sort some of the stock metal in the science machine shop. We also found out that there are a couple of snowmobiles for public use, so Sean was excited to drive around and drove the snowmobile the half mile or so out to the shop.

Later in the afternoon, we met up again in the game room for a while. There was an announcement that the Twin Otter had landed, about two hours before we were expecting it. We went out to help unload everything. They brought back the SIP, the NASA/CSBF piece of hardware that allowed us to send data up and down. It’s about 350lbs, so it was good to get a start bringing back from the field.

The Twin Otter also brought back Dave, the SuperGroom team mechanic, and his gear. He hurt his leg out in the field, and is able to walk fine but they decided it was safest to send him back. We talked to him over dinner and got an update on the situation on the ground at the SuperTIGER site. It sounds like the weather has been windy and pretty cold, but that working outside around the payload isn’t too bad because there’s a wall of snow protecting it from the wind. The snowmobile they had out there had a few different mechanical issues, and it seems kind of crazy that they were even able to keep it running as much as they had. The new snowmobile that went out today should make things a lot easier and let them finish the skiway much sooner.

Dave is heading back to McMurdo tomorrow, but he apparently has some photos of the payload for us that I haven’t gotten yet. I’ll try to post some of the photos when I get a chance, but the best internet connection here normally happens in the wee hours of the morning, so it may have to wait.

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