Sunday, 16 November 2008

Survey preparation

With the cargo arriving early in our first full week we started to prepare the various systems for survey. The gravimeter was setup in the lab and various test carried out to confirm the correct operation and performance of the meter. Similarly GPS base stations were installed in the lab to check their functionality as they will be used as the ground based station for the differential GPS processing. PASIN the ice penetrating radar that BAS uses for survey was unpacked and built, so the configuration files could be tried out and configured to suite the ice conditions of the survey. As well as the testing of the equipment batteries are charged and tested for use on the remote base station that will be deployed.

Base and field training continued with driver training so we can drive the trucks around the base, these in American terms are small trucks but if on our Rothera base would be classed as quite a sizable vehicle. Environmental training was also carried out and covered on how to keep the Antarctic environment clean, it included what to do with the rubbish, what to do in the case of oil/fuel spills etc.

Four of our collaborators from LDEO arrived early in the week, this include my boss one of BAS’s members of staff on secondment for the period of the survey/project. Over the next week more of their team will arrive, were as the BAS team is small the USA LDEO team is large in comparison, to give a scale of the size/style of the two approaches the camps when fully staffed with scientists and supports staff; the USA AGAP-South will have some 50+ people at the camp and the UK-Australian AGAP-North will peak at 10 people. Where as the Americans will live in a large tented town style camp the Brits and the Ausies will live in the more traditional and romantic Scott tents. But been on the McMurdo base is comfortable with good food; plenty of expertise and resources, and plenty of activities so the two approaches though different succeed. Also an added bonus there are so many top scientist arround sometimes you get chance to give a hand, one night last week we got to go on the sea ice and help test the under water GPS for an automonous sumbarine that scientists are using this season.
Helping testing underwater GPS

With so many historical Antarctic sites near McMurdo it is nice in the evening to go for a walk up Observation Hill or along to Discovery Hut. Monday we were able to have a guided tour around the hut which was good as numbers are very strictly limited so as to protect the site for the future, but we had found a guide the bases dentist so she gave us our very own personal tour of the hut. With all the old seal meat and artefacts lying around the air smelt a bit smokey and old. Along with the frozen chunks and carcasses of seal meat there were boxes from Scott’s 1910 Antarctic Expedition, tins of Fry’s cocoa, special cabin biscuits, Colmans whole wheat meal, Hunters famed oatmeal etc. An interesting trip all told.

Discovery Hut McMurdo

Yesterday we set up the magnetic base stations near where we will be flying from to measure the temporal magnetic field which will be used in the magnetic processing.
Setting up of mag base station at Williams Field

The following week should see the arrival of both Borek Twin Otter for the LDEO team and FBL the BAS Twin Otter. Once they arrive equipment will be installed and a few test flights performed before heading in to the interior of Antarctica.

1 comment:

Philippa said...

Hi Carl
I am very much enjoying your blogs and photo's! I hope you manage to find the time to keep at it throughout the project (and that your fingers don't get too cold to type when in the field). I hope your boss is behaving :-) and best of luck with the surveys, have best wishes, Philippa.