It’s been a while since I’ve last made a blog post so here I am updating the world. Not too much has dramatically changed down here, but there are a few exciting bits of news that I can share:
The window coverings are now down! We had to have them up since March to block out all artificial lighting in the building. There are optical instruments on the roof of the elevated station that look at the auroras. I’m not totally certain how the science works behind the experiments as it’s never been explained to me (and I’ve never asked), but the essence is that no white lights can be observed by the instruments as it messes up the data. This is why we would walk around with red headlamps to get to and from the outer buildings and why the heavy equipment had all been equipped with red headlights. Now that the sun is up, albeit not over the horizon yet still, the auroras cannot be observed; the experiment is over. We’re free to remove the window coverings and actually enjoy the view outside of our windows!
It’s still a bit dark outside from the perspective of the station windows however. All windows are tinted so as to block out some of the sun’s light and radiation during the summer months. They thusly give the false impression that the outside world is still cast in darkness. Not true! My team and I went for a walk last week before we got a strong wind storm so that we could enjoy the view. It was -90F, a beautiful pink and purple glow on the horizon from the sun, and I was able to maneuver without totally tripping over the sastrugi and new drifts. Of course it’s me though so at least some tripping is required.
|Sunrise! Photo taken by Brett Baddorf (the one I took is on a different computer)|
We have also been getting more information from the Denver HQ about our redeployment. Right now it appears that there will be a KBA (Ken Borek) twin otter plane arriving at the Pole on October 15th. They’re just passing through, but it still signifies the first new person that we have seen since the first few weeks of February. They also, as is rumored, will be bringing freshies! You don’t know how excited I am to eat an orange again. Yes, we have the greenhouse so we aren’t going completely without fresh foods, but we haven’t had fresh citrus in months. I have a feeling that my diet is going to dramatically change in those few weeks; I will probably go completely raw vegan and just engorge myself on freshies if it’s possible.
Of course with the announcement that we’ll be seeing some friendly Canadians coming down our way in a month signifies just how close we are to redeploying. There are still things to do on station to prepare for the arrival of the summer crew such as prepping the skiway (runway for you on terra firma), getting all of the heavy equipment up and running, and preparing any retrograde cargo that may have to leave the station. The past week or so my team has had a lull in our workloads as we wait for the extremely cold temperatures to break and the extreme winds to die down (yeah okay not as extreme as McMurdo or Florida/Texas, but pretty extreme for here), but soon enough we’ll be busy. We’re tired and mentally fatigued, whether we know it ourselves or not, but I think the knowledge of our soon departures will reinvigorate us a bit.
|And it's a good thing too - we have to start shoveling out enough snow to get a loader in here to scoop it away. From left to right: Brett Baddorf, me, Steve Ashton|