Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Days 81-84 recap, January 13-16, 2013 -- Round and round she goes

EBEX continues on its (very) roughly circular path about the South Pole. Based on the current velocity of about 16-17 degrees of longitude per day, it will take about another week to get back to near (or slightly past) McMurdo for termination.

In the meantime, the remainder of the EBEX team on the ice (Jeff, Michele, Joy, Chappy, and myself) have been basically sitting around with little to do.  On Sunday, I went to the McMurdo fire station expo, where I got to dress in firefighter gear and pull a dummy out of a smoke-filled room, fulfilling every 7-year-old boy's fantasy. On Monday, I went and checked out the experiment of my current roommate, a researcher from NASA's Ames Research Center who is down here to test out a design for a new Mars rover drill system. It turns out that McMurdo's Dry Valleys (on the opposite side of the Royal Society mountain range from Ross Island) are the closest one can get on earth to a Mars environment. In addition, Chappy and Joy started the process of backing up some of our pre-flight calibration data while I took some pictures of the fish in the Crary lab aquarium.

Today (Wednesday), we went out to LDB to continue packing whatever remaining things we can pack without the rest of the experiment. As of now we have filled two of our five 8' shipping cubes, but most of the space in the rest is for things that are currently floating in the stratosphere. Toward the end of the day, I wandered around LDB taking pictures of things like the LDB freezer (basically an ice cave) and the old Caterpillar "Stretch 8" SD-8LGP bulldozers -- which, dating from the mid-50's, I'm told are the oldest Caterpillar bulldozers still in use. They have 54"-wide tracks and can pull almost 100,000 lbs!


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