Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 6, October 30, 2012 -- Made to measure

Today was my first full day in Antarctica, which meant that I actually had to do some work. Kyle finished up connecting the detector wiring inside the instrument's RF shielding towers and Jeff did wire checks on the HWP assembly. I started disassembling the cryostat optics stack in preparation for eventual lens alignment measurements.

In the afternoon, Kyle and I started the often frustrating and lengthy task of lens alignment. We got the first two lenses aligned before we had to leave the high bay for the day. Luckily, we got to take the more-comfortable TerraBus transport (nicknamed "Ivan"...as in "Ivan the TerraBus". Yep.), which takes about 35 minutes to get from the LDB camp back to McMurdo. The route to and from McMurdo winds around Ross Island, passing by the New Zealand base on Ross Island, Scott Base, before heading out onto the ice shelf in the shadow of Mt. Erebus.

We were joined in the morning by Zak, Jamie, and Chin-Lin from the Keck Array experiment, a competitor in the CMB polarization game that's based at the South Pole. They are 'in transit' on their way to the Pole to work on Keck, but have been delayed getting out due to plane mechanical issues. There are a lot of people at the base that are supposed to have already left (including the 54 Aussies who were headed out to the Australian base but had to return to McMurdo due to bad weather), making McMurdo pretty crowded. Hopefully those people will start filtering out over the next few days (assuming the plane gets fixed!) and things will settle down a bit in town.

In the evening, after dinner, we attended an outdoor safety briefing which highlighted some of the hiking routes around McMurdo and the necessary safety precautions one must take when out and about. We're planning on taking a hike maybe tomorrow or Thursday.


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