At the South Pole

Day 8 – 2004-01-25

Sunday – mostly crashed out, still feeling the effects of altitude. Went to a talk in the evening given by a British woman, Fiona Thornewill, who just walked here! (On her own, unsupported, and breaking the record)

I did some exploring later – there's a Russian biplane that's been abandoned.

Russian biplane Russian biplane
Russian biplane Russian biplane
Simon ElDorm
Simon – A bit icy ElDorm – Where I'm living (top left window)

Day 9 – 2004-01-26

Monday – So time to get to work. Today I'm feeling a bit more with it, so I must be building up my red cell count.

Finally I got my laptop on the local network, so I can start FTPing these pages, amongst other things.

MAPO – DASI / QUaD is the bit on the end Secondary Support Monitoring System – What I'm here for
Simon and an LC130  
Simon and an LC130 (about to take off)  

Day 10 – 2004-04-27

Tuesday. Up in plenty of time for breakfast. Fiddled with messenger settings whilst the satellite was still up – finally managed to get through with Yahoo! Messenger. Received an email from Helen, with some nice pictures of Jamie to keep spirits up.

At DASI – got the 19" box in place, with all the lasers connected. Now I need to fit the mirror plate. But I can't find the mounting ring. Phoned John Kovac with the Iridium phone – “Ask Oli” he says. Waiting for Oli's reply to my email!

My room My Telescope
My room QUaD
Real Pole marker Ceremonial South Pole
The real South Pole The ceremonial South Pole

Phoned Helen in the evening, with the VoIP phone. The quality is very good, but there is a bit of lag.

Day 11 – 2004-01-28

No reply from Oli – Walter says he was in London. But got through to his mobile with the Iridium phone, much to Oli's disgust it seems. No help, so a new ring had to be made.

The weather conditions have gone very murky. The air strip had to be closed for a bit. Erik showed me the shop, where I bought some postcards.

Managed to have a short chat with Helen, using MS Messenger.

More Brits arrived on skis. “Mike” (Thornewill) sounds like he's a Yorkshireman.

McPenguin Inside the Dome
A friend from McMurdo followed me to the Pole Inside the Dome
Inside the Dome  
Inside the Dome  

Day 12 – 2004-01-29

The Brits flew out today.

Got the mirror plate mounting ring lined-up, and holes made through the blue foam. The mirror plate itself is being “light-weighted” because of concern over the load on the dodgy foam cone. The ball-jointed struts supporting the plate off the mounting ring have turned out to be junk. There is ~1mm run-out, which translates to significant plate movement.

The Brits about to fly out Ben, Clem and Erik
The Brits about to fly out Ben, Clem and Erik
Mirror plate  
Mirror plate  

Day 13 – 2004-01-30

More trouble with ball joints. I tried adding springs, to push apart the ball joints (which is a lot easier to do than pulling them together). This worked fine on one, but on the second it just pulled out the ball. So I abandoned them, and went for straight studding instead.

Even after lightening the mirror assembly is still a bit too heavy for the foam cone as it stands. So Allan has machined a whole new one.

I posted two more cards.

The altitude is getting to me again. I had to have a nap after lunch – not enough blood to digest food and stand up!

Ben and I took photos of each other by the ceremonial Pole. I'll have to get them off him later.


Simon at the Pole Simon at the Pole
Simon at the Pole

I used the VoIP phone to talk to Helen and then Walter.

Walking back I noticed how the snow was blowing across the ground, just like fine sand, quickly building up over vehicle tracks.

People are heading off (some on skis) with their quilts. What's up? Slushies? (apparently the stand around outside with freezing beer and cocktails made with snow)

New mirror plate
New mirror plate

Day 14 – 2004-01-31

A fun-filled day! (No, not really)

Sprayed the plates black. Got ready to go. Argued about how to bolt it to the foam. Got it on in the end.

The laser spots don't quite come onto the PSDs. The mirror plate must be slightly out. I will have to adjust it.

New mirror plate Simon
New mirror plate (now black) in place Simon

Day 15 – 2004-02-01

Sunday – which means there's no breakfast served, but just a “brunch” from 10:30, consisting mostly of last night's pizza. Good job I've got some tea bags to keep me going!

What to do today? Slouch about? Bruise my arms some more trying to adjust the lasers? I've still got four rolls of film to use up! Unfortunately the sky is pretty yucky again.

Here are a couple of photos somebody took out of the back of a Herc' a few days ago:

The station MAPO
The South Pole Station (much of it anyway)
Bottom left: The Dome
Bottom right: The new elevated station
Centre right (ish): Elevated Dorm
Top right: Cargo bermes and summer camp
QUaD is approximately in the centre. You can just make out the foam cone

And some shots from today:

The base from MAPO Simon
The base from MAPO Simon

I fired off a few more on the Vivitar. The zoom ring almost froze solid! It was Ok once it warmed back up.

After dinner (pot roast and trifle) we had a talk from a member of the SETI Institute, who has a small telescope here, looking for extra-solar planets.

Day 16 – 2004-02-02

Monday – Time to get the SSMS running.

After a big argument about how to adjust the plate (not big on Health and Safety policy, these guys) I did it my way (enlarged the hole in the foam and fiddled about with a spanner from the outside). With the help of the Web cam and Ben, I eventually got the spots lined up. I still have to play around a bit to establish the axis directions, but it is now working. We even did a bit of steering around, and saw some nasty plots on-screen (there goes our error budget, if the final cone is anything like this one!).

Ben and I went up to Viper with our cameras. Here's one of my shots:


Day 17 – 2004-02-03


I had a go at determining the axis directions on the laser system. It turns out one of the laser holders is playing up – sticking and jumping. I took the plate off and sprayed some WD40 on the adjuster, but it didn't make much difference. I can still get a good measure of the longitudinal sense, so I'll just have to assume 90° from this is true.

I had a look around AST/RO before lunch, when I took back their plumb bob. Full of kit in there.

MAPO Snow scene
MAPO – Left: QUaD, Right: Viper A snow scene – The UK is slightly left of centre!
Snow Cat Ski-Doo
One for Jamie – A Snow Cat Ski-Doo (one of many)

After lunch I noticed a Caterpillar truck dragging a Snow Cat (not this one) round and round, backwards, with another one following. Some kind of ritual? I suppose something had seized up. Unfortunately I didn't have the camera with me.

Day 18 – 2004-02-04

Wednesday – Pretty yucky. Couldn't see beyond the skiway.

Part way through a peaceful breakfast I was joined by a lady working for the “Antarctic Sun”. She interviewed me about QUaD.

We're having a power cut in the Dark Sector this morning, so I hung around ElDorm, doing laundry and working on the SSMS data.

Lunchtime – Chatted with “Stephen” from Linde (installing a nitrogen liquifier) at Guildford, and Serap, who has Lucio's old office at Bartol.

The weather is still horrible – I was lucky to get a lift part-way to MAPO in the shuttle.

In the evening I went out looking for some subjects to photograph. A good collection of vehicles presented themselves:

Caterpillar snow plough The Dome
Caterpillar snow plough The Dome
Summer Camp Simon
Summer Camp Simon
Caterpillar with fork lift More Ski-Doos
Caterpillar with fork lift More Ski-Doos

Day 19 – 2004-02-05


Ben, Clem and Erik are busy trying to get the accelerometer system to work. I played around with some cryo' modelling, and checked the alignment of the SSMS relative to DASI coordinates.

Finally I made up my mind and bought a few souvenirs from the station shop (or “Pole Mart”).

In the evening we had a “Bag Drag”, so I had to get everything packed for the journey the next day. I stood on the scales in all my gear, and the girl working them had to put on a bigger counter-weight! (I was 212 lb, but I'm sure 10 kg of that is the ECW gear!)

Ready to go
Ready to go

Ben worked late into the night on his accelerometer. Clem has fried the one Ben brought with him, but another was scrounged from AST/RO.

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