Friday, December 11, 2009

Final two weeks in Antarctica

Hi all,
Final blog, because, well, I'm writing this from my flat in Wellington having returned to NZ yesterday evening.

The final two weeks of the trip have been really busy, and included 3 nights away from base last weekend (hence no blog then) at Cape Roberts.

The first photo is of the ice-wall that was built in front of the flagpole for the Erebus commemorations. Then there's a couple of photos of McMurdo Station from the Hut Point Ridge track.

We finally got our work done at the Arrival Heights Laboratory (the planets must have aligned). These are the photos of me working on the roof- doing a horizon profile from the centre of the roof.

Some photos of the awesome launch of a Long Duration Balloon- massive balloons which circle the continent for a couple of months at 40,000m - thats above 99% of the atmosphere. They can carry loads underneath them of 2 tonnes, and cost $US2m per launch (not including the scientific instruments, which can cost up to $US30m!).

A set of photos follow from a really productive day in the Darwin Glacier region doing our photo-control. We were able to get all of the 8 points we were hoping to, which means that we'll be able to complete the mapping we want to do. That's about 40 x 60km of mapping in one days work- pretty impressive!!!

There are a heap of photos from my 4 days at Cape Roberts. This was a trip to try and fix our tide gauge there, which has been giving erroneous results. Unfortunately, this couldn't be done until after the end of our scheduled programme, so Rachelle had to return to NZ before this trip. We took a couple of people to help out- Darcy, an engineer from VUW, and Stephen, the winter science-tech at Scott Base. They only stayed for a day, and we managed to swap out the gauge sensor in one day. I stayed on with Dave- a field safety person, who was there to make sure I didn't fall into a tide-crack while undertaking the calibration of the gauge.

A blurry photo of the new wind turbines at Scott Base, and then some from our return wrap it up.

It's strange being back, and is always strange how easy it is to come and go from Antarctica- a 5 hour flight and that's about it.. It always takes a while to sink in.