Tuesday, February 23, 2010

At the South Pole.....

   Above pictures C130 at the Pole, ceremonial Pole, Pole dorm room and the Scott- Amundsen Station                
I barely wrote about the South Pole so now it is time to describe life there. I was told it was unusually warm for the end of summer--temperature ranging from minus 20 to minus thirty, down to minus 40 plus with wind chill.

The second flight on the C-130 (Hercules) was able to land.  I was greeted by Al Baker, science support coordinator for Raytheon Polar Services Co. He immediately took my too heavy bag, knowing that all efforts were particularly difficult with the drastic change in elevation. The South Pole is at 9300 feet above sea level and one needs time to adjust to the drastic change in altitude from McMurdo. The medication dispensed by the medical office at McMurdo may have been helpful for some but it made my toes burn so  I discontinued it. The only ill effects I felt was breathlessness after a minimal amount of activity.

Here are some facts about Antarctica....  

Temperatures on the Polar Plateau range from -115°F to +6°F; the mean temperature is -56°F.  Winter wind-chills can plummet to -148°F.

It is less windy than coastal Antarctica--but much colder.

It is extremely dry--world's driest desert.

Once settled in my room (unlike McMurdo all rooms seem to be singles at "Pole") in the very efficient new station (built in the late 90's) I took a brief walk to the ceremonial South Pole, a marker surrounded by flags from many countries and then to the actual magnetic pole --several yards away. The marker is changed on a regular basis and is chosen as part of a design contest. This year's maker is a small bronze model of South Pole Telescope. Although very close to the station, that walk was the extent of my outdoor exploration for the evening. As I had arrived so late I was invited to stay for the weekend. By staying those  extra days I knew I would  see a great deal more of the Scott-Amundsen Station and South Pole life.

To be continued--about the South Pole Telescope,  Ice Cube  (the neutrino telescope) and the BICEP telescope as well as the clean air facility (ARO) and more.......



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