Travel Log: 08 December 2001

Dateline: 10:30 AM Saturday, 08 December 2001
South Pole

Temp: -26.9°C / -16.3°F
Windchill: -40.4°C / -40.7°F
Wind: 8.4 knots, Grid 296
Barometer: 678.5 mB (10683 feet)

Randy writes:

It was really cold here for a bit, as the wind picked up and the wind chill dropped to more than -60°F. Since last night the wind has been calm and it has not been so cold. Last "night" we were up late working. A large section of the new station was being lifted into place with a crane and we watched the "pick". Afterwards we returned to MAPO (The Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory) where the CARA telescopes and labs are to do some more work. I waited until 3AM for the satellite to come up, and when it didn't it was time for bed. We are leaving mid-day Monday so we do not have much time left.

The CARA bear explored MAPO a bit more and met Eric Torbet, a post doc at the University of California Santa Barbara who works on the ACBAR project. Eric thinks that the penguin, who is sleeping in this morning, should be named something with a "P" like Peter.
bear with Eric

The CARA bear also went out to the Jamesway where the equipment to make very very cold liquids called cryogens (which are used in the telescope detectors) is housed. There the bear encountered Karl, Michael and Allan who were all very happy to meet him.
Jamesway bear with friends

Finally, the bear helped to work on one of the spare DASI "eyes" (receivers), while the penguin visited with Jeff Peterson, who works with the Viper telescope.
DASI receiver Jeff and penguin


Dateline: 2:41 PM Saturday, 08 December 2001

Here's a journal entry from Vivian:

whiteoutWow! When I left my windowless room this morning, I was surprised to find that the blue skies and bright sun I'd gotten so used to down here had disappeared. A total white-out (at right, the penguin listens to the radio while watching the dreary weather). Walking over to the galley for lunch (we slept late today after working until 2:00 in the morning), I could barely tell where the ground ended and the sky began. This is not good weather for shooting video, so I have some time to write.

The South Pole is amazing. It's summer here, and that means 24 hours of daylight. People here work around the clock -- some during the day, others at night. We have been working all different hours, trying to take lots of pictures with the sun at different points in the sky. (As the sun moves around the earth, the light changes, and Jason, our cameraman, is very picky about where the sun should be in every shot.) This is a great place to make a video. When the weather is clear, the colors are beautiful: glistening white snow; blue skies; and lots of people walking around in bright red parkas. Because the sun is always up, sometimes it's hard to remember to stop working and go to sleep.

The cold weather here is not as bad as I'd feared. Yes, it's very, very cold and sometimes windy. But we wear lots of clothing to protect us. I think I must be getting really strong from wearing all this heavy gear. Imagine taking everything out of your closet and putting it all on at once. It's kind of like that. It's also kind of funny because everyone here dresses the same way, so it's hard to tell one person from another outside. It's a good thing we all wear name tags on our coats, or I might not know whom I was talking to inside that puffy red jacket and behind those dark goggles.

Another nice surprise is the food here. It's delicious. There are lots of things to choose from, and every meal has fresh bread and vegetables and -- this is the important part -- really, really great desserts. Pies, cakes, cookies, you name it. The bakers even made me a special cake for my birthday. It was chocolate with cherries and butter-cream icing. (I had two slices.)

Our adventure here is almost over. We leave the South Pole on Monday. Then it's back to McMurdo, through New Zealand, and for me, home to New York City. I'll be sad to leave Antarctica. But to be honest, I'll be happy to go home, see my friends, and take a hot bath.


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next day...