Travel Log: 09 December 2001

Dateline: 8:14 AM Sunday, 09 December 2001
South Pole

Temp: -23.6°C / -10.4°F
Windchill: -44.1°C / -47.3°F
Wind: 13.7 knots, Grid 024
Barometer: 680.4 mB (10611 feet)

Randy writes:

Sunday is the one day that is different here as many people have the day off. Many people sleep late or do something different then usual. Many continue to work, though, as the summer season is short.

We are now counting the hours till we leave and have more work to do and need to pack up all our gear. The weather is still unusual. Yesterday the wind blew out of the opposite direction that it normally does. The net result of that was to bring moist or at least relatively wet air from the coast here, which took away our normal blue skies. It is already starting to clear though.

The Pole has lots of customs and traditions and one of the more important ones is Saturday Night Pizza. We had delicious pizza for dinner last night. There were more varieties than I can recall and all that we tried were tasty.

Pictures of the last day of work: Jason gears up for the outdoors, Jason and Vivian film.
gearing up Jason filming MAPO frosty Jason filming Vivian at work

The halo around the sun in many of these photos is called a sun dog. It's a bit like a rainbow, except it is caused by light refracting through the hexagonal ice crystals in the air. The building under construction, below, is the new Dark Sector lab.
NDSL sun dog dog over DASI dog over Viper

And now, a few words from Jason:

Our trip has been going very well so far. We were lucky to have great weather earlier this week up until yesterday. We shot a lot of footage of the DASI telescope and John Carlstrom, the lead DASI scientist, with beautiful blue skies, and sunlit snow, before the sky became overcast. The sun just circles around the sky counterclockwise all day, so at any point in the day there is usually something to shoot. We're now waiting for blue skies to knock off our final shots.

camera gearThe camera and sound gear has worked extremely well under Antarctic conditions. Before the trip I was worried that cold temperatures might make some of our equipment malfunction. Our camera is rated to work at temperatures above 32 degrees F. Temperatures at Pole have gone as low as -30 degrees. To solve this problem we have been using a "housing" for the camera, which is like a winter coat. Inside the housing there are little pouches in which we put hand warmers which help keep the camera warm and working. The housing has two sleeves for my arms to go into, so I can operate the camera.

It's slow going working in the cold, at altitude, with the wind blowing, but with the three of us working together, Randy, Vivian, and I have been able to accomplish a lot.

The animals visited the Geographic South Pole (the real axis of the Earth's spin, as opposed to the ceremonial mirror-globe-on-a-Pole) with Randy; the penguin hitched a ride in Randy's coat pocket. At the Pole, the bear danced on top of the world... or the bottom, depending on your point of view.
pocket penguin Penguin at Pole dancing bear

At Sunday brunch, the penguin was quite a table-hopping social animal. This group (below left) thought the penguin liked hot sauce like Tabasco, so they suggested the name "Jala-penguin" (as in jalapeño peppers). The penguin also helped the cook, the legendary "Sally-from-the-Galley" Ayotte, who thought "Beaker" would be a good name.
penguin group penguin with Sally

Go on to the
next day...