Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year in McMurdo: December 31, 2014-January 1, 2015

Wednesday, New Year's Eve, wasn't too exciting here in McMurdo. After lunch, I climbed Observation Hill and got a great view of the surrounding area. I didn't see any open water yet, but there are definitely more cracks and melt pools in the sea ice than there were when we got there. We heard more from the team at the SuperTIGER site--they had some issues with the snowmobile, but they've been able to fix them so far. A backup snowmobile went out to the South Pole on Thursday, so if they need it it can easily be delivered by a Twin Otter. The weather Wednesday afternoon was particularly nice, so I walked around the Observation Hill loop and down to Hut Point later on.
McMurdo from the top of Observation Hill
Thursday, SPIDER had their first launch attempt. They rolled out to the launch pad a little before I went to lunch, and then I spent a lot of the afternoon waiting for inflation to start. They finally started inflating the balloon a little bit before 4pm, so Sean and I walked out to the hill above Scott Base to watch the launch. They launched a little bit after 5. We then walked back to town for dinner. After dinner, we caught a shuttle back over to Scott Base. After doing some shopping in the store, we stopped by the bar, and were barely there for a minute or two before there was a base-wide announcement that three Adelie penguins were lying around outside. We walked out and got within about 50 feet of the penguins. They weren't doing much--at one point, one stood up, but I screwed up and overexposed the photo I got of that. After watching them lie on the ground for ten minutes or so we went back inside, where we could watch them through the window. They stayed there the rest of the time we were there.
When we got back to McMurdo, we ran into Dana, who told us about an email that we'd all gotten while we were gone. The plan is for the Tiger Tail team to go to the Pole on the next flight, either Sunday (when it's the backup for WAIS Divide) or Monday (when it should be the primary mission). Hopefully that plan stays the same.

Penguins napping near Scott Base

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