Search This Blog

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Field work at the South Pole

Several people have been asking for a blog and photos about the living quarters in the station.  So I promise to make that the subject of my next blog, but today I would like to take you outside the station to show you some of the work that I do on the ice.  As the person responsible for the Space Weather Laboratory at the South Pole, I operate and maintain a number of instruments scattered around the station, most of them within a radius of 2 miles from the station.  Some of the instruments are sitting on the ice, some are on the roof of buildings, some are buried under the ice.  Most of them can be monitored remotely from inside the station, but all of them require the periodic or occasional visit.  Here are some of them in photos.

This is the Atmospheric Research Observatory (ARO).  I am monitoring two experiments here and I need to walk here from the station every day, no matter what the weather is like.  It is a 15-minute walk.  Most of the science in this building is done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  It is here that data about ozone depletion, carbon dioxide concentration, and pollution are collected.  The building is located upwind from the station and samples the purest air that the world has to offer.

Here I am standing with Bob in front of an antenna that captures electromagnetic waves propagating through the ionosphere.  Some of these waves originate in space (such as from solar winds), other originate from the earth itself (such as from lightning).  These antennas are located about 1 mile from the station and I only have to visit them occasionally.

This is a combination solar panel and wind turbine being tested as a remotely operated, wireless, and self-powered station for extreme weather conditions.  It could be used to record and transmit seismic, environmental, or positional data.  Upon successful testing a large number of these could be deployed across the continent.  I need to inspect and monitor it every day.  It is located about one quarter of a mile from the main station.

Here I am standing on a platform about 15 feet above the ice, which supports a cosmic ray detector.  I am still trying to figure out what cosmic rays are, but, in the meantime, today I had to go out there to replace a heater that broke during the winter.  The temperature today was -45 F (-42 C), but with no wind I stayed warm for the entire time (about 1 hr) that it took two of us to do the job.  This apparatus is located not too far from the wind turbine above and, if all goes well, I should not have to go there, unless something breaks.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to test extreme performance HDPE wind turbine blades in the Antarctic. contact