Friday, February 1, 2013

Day 100, February 2, 2013 -- Recovery Tales, Part 1

After much waiting, we finally got out to the payload today.

We were picked up in the morning at the LDB site by the Kenn Borek Air crew flying one of their Basler Turbo Conversions BT-67 aircraft, a turboprop-converted Douglas DC-3 equipped with skis for snow use. After loading up the Basler with all of our tools and supplies, we lifted off and headed to the landing site. On the way, we were treated to views of Ross Island from vantage points not normally seen as well as pretty amazing scenery as we flew over the Transantarctic mountains.

We landed on the part of the Antarctic plateau that is part of the East Antarctic Ice sheet. While it looks quite flat from the air, there is a fair bit of texture to the surface that made the landing (and subsequent takeoff) a bit rough. The pilot first did a touch-and-go to test the surface conditions, then came back around and landed 4 miles away from the payload and taxied over the surface to reach EBEX.

Once out on the ground we set to work immediately. After taking pictures to document the condition of various bits of the payload, Jeff started by removing the star cameras and their important pointing data while Michele and I worked on the bolometer data disk vessels. After that, we then proceeded to remove nearly every single piece of electronics from the payload (except one we forgot -- oops) plus the two mirrors in the three and a half hours we spent on the ground. The CSBF crew removed their hardware and then helped us get our hardware off. We finished off the day by doing some prep work in order to speed up retrieval of the cryostat once we get back out to the landing site.



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