November, 2003....J. Dana Hrubes.....updated December 01, 2003 , 2038 GMT


An LC-130 leaves a contrail over the polar plateau on its way back to McMurdo Station while we are driving a Pisten Bully back from the 7 kilometer-long Stanford VLF Beacon Transmitter Antenna

November at the Pole - Beginning of a Busy Season

In early November, the Station rapidly nears its summer capacity of about 235 people. Work is continuing on the new Station while new science projects are installed and continuing ones are upgraded. As the Cusp Science Research Associate, I have 12 projects to operate and maintain throughout the upcoming year. Summer is the time when the principal investigators travel to the Pole anywhere from a few days to a month to check on and upgrade the science projects creating a very busy schedule.  me and Al at the pole  

One of the first things done at skylab is to dig out the rear door.  Since skylab was built in the mid-1970's over 30 feet of snow and ice have accumulated and drifted. Keeping the first floor door open is a challenge now, particularly after a few days of heavy winds.   Al digging in the sun       back door snow steps      years of snow accumulation  

We also drove out to SPRESSO (South Pole Seismic Station) which is the new USGS seismic vault. It has been placed about 5 miles out toward grid East in the Quiet Sector of South Pole Station. The existing seismic vault was merely several hundred meters from skylab making it vulnerable to the many vibrations near the station caused primarily by heavy equipment.    digging out the hatch for the under-ice SPRESSO vault     me in the vault     Al climbing out of the vault  

Al and I went out to the Very Low Frequency (VLF) beacon transmitter to check it out after the winter season. The VLF Beacon transmits a signal at 19.4 kHz that bounces off the ionosphere and is received at other stations such as Palmer Station on the coast of Antarctica. The received signal reveals much about the electron precipitation region on the ionosphere adding to information to help in the modeling of the upper atmosphere and the magnetosphere of the earth.    the Sloth vehicle that we drove to VLF     South Pole Station almost 2 miles from VLF antenna     under the center of the 7 kilometer-long dipole antenna .      I also went out to the Cusp antenna field that is about a kilometer about grid north of skylab to check out everything after the long winter.   next to the passive VLF receiver antenna  

Antarctica experience a total solar eclipse on November 24, julian date 328 at approximately 2220 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). The event lasted for almost two hours and it was about 86% total at the geographic pole.  eclipse   (-taken through dark filter)    panorama of polies watching the start of the eclipse from the pole   - notice the two contrails left by 2 LC-130's on their way back to McMurdo Station.

Finally, we celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday with a great dinner. It was the first of many holiday meals in the new elevated station. An historic event.   thanksgiving dinner  

The National Geographic television film crew has been here all week taking lots of footage. We took them out to the VLF beacon antenna and they also filmed our fire drill last week

          A Real-Time Photo of South Pole Station as Seen from the ARO Building (live when satellite is up)

           A Comprehensive South Pole Web Site by Bill Spindler

          Winterover Web Pages (Bill Spindler's List)