October, 2008....J. Dana Hrubes...updated October 31, 2008 , 2009 GMT

At the end of October the first aircraft at the South Pole Since February 14th:
a ski-equipped Basler DC-3 (C-47) lands at the geographic South Pole

October is the month that marks the end of the year spent living and working at the South Pole and brings the anticipation of returning to Christchurch in mid-November to lay in the sun at the botanical gardens and catch up sleep.
It is also a month when our busy work schedule gets even busier with the addition of end of season reports, finishing up winter tasking, station opening tasks as well as 24 hour operation of South Pole Telescope (SPT).

A new technical paper was just released by the SPT team with results from this year's data.   http://arxiv.org/abs/0810.1578  

One of the end of winter task is to groom a new two-mile-long skiway.  This take heavy equipment and a couple of weeks of long days.    Josiah grooming the skiway at -70 degrees F       grooming the skiway       grooming   LMC at SPT   dragging the dark sector    The first aircraft since February 14th also arrived at the end of October. It was a 16 passenger upgraded Basler DC-3. It has started flying in summer personnel from McMurdo Station on the Coast of Antarctica some 800 miles away on the other side of the Trans-Antarctic mountain range.   Basler DC-3  refueling at Pole      winter polies getting a glimpse of a new strange face    DC-3 taking off over the new station     Basler DC-3 at f
light line    DC-3 and disembarking passengers  

Once about 30 new people came in we had our winterover ceremony, where winterovers receive their congressional medals. This year, however, I got a big surprise when I was presented the National Science Foundation Polar Programs flag that had been flying over the station all year. This is the first year that this presentation has been made to the station science leader. I was a great honor to get this flag and it as extremely tattered from the harsh winter.    NSF flag and SPT    NSF flag

dormant dome and skylab
A sad sight: The now dormant dome and a cold skylab are now being quickly buried
 in snow awaiting an eventual disassembly and shipment back to the States. I spent
three years of my life in these iconic facilities

Speaking of the past, I walked over to my old SETI telescope tower and service building that have been decommissioned. It was sad to see the now empty telescope tower and the drifted in service building where I spent many hours during two winters operating, troubleshooting and repairing this extra-solar planet finding optical telescope.   AASTO-SETI tower and building    
new elevated station
The new elevated station, commissioned in January, 2008 after its first official winter

I wintered in the new station this year. It is quite luxurious compared to living in the dome, but the dome brings plenty of nostalgia for us who were lucky enough to spend several winter under it.  
the elevated station, the geographic South Pole and a Scott-tent where many of us spend the night during the dark winter when temperatures are as low as -100 degrees F
under the elevated station where winds during the winter are accelerated, thus keeping the snow from accumulating          

the geographic South pole marker and Scott tent
a sign on the new station winterovers put on for the returning summer staff arrival            for sale
the new station hallway where the past 51 years of winterover photographs are displayed    

Dave, the science machinist, left early on the first flight so we took some photos.     dave and I with SPT in the background     frosty     in the middle of nowhere      nowhere-part 2        snow accumulation on the dark sector lab where I work and the station a mile away    

This month I had to troubleshoot a problem with one of our pulse tube helium compressors. It would not start. Once I increased the ultra-high-purity helium in the compressor it started, but I still had to assemble the compressor with the pulse tube, the pulse tube motor and the long 66 ft helium lines to give it a full check out run.  Pumping and purging all helium lines and subsystems is critical to maintaining an extremely high purity of helium in the components. Any contamination of gases other than helium, such as oxygen or nitrogen in the system will result in degradation of cooling performance because these contaminant gases will freeze out on the cold head at these low temperatures of 2 to 4 degrees C above absolute zero.     holding helium pulse tube    connecting vacuum turbo pump     assembling pulse tube system        assembling pulse tube system-2     connecting helium lines to helium compressor     pulse tube getting cold    

The Federal Aviation Administration made a flight over the Pole this month.     FAA flight over the Pole    FAA jet and South Pole Telescope    

On a final note, Martin Pomerantz, the father of South Pole Astronomy just passed away. The Martin A Pomerantz Observatory (MAPO) in the dark sector was named in his honor some years ago. He wrote a book, Astronomy on Ice - Observing the Universe from the South Pole, which is published by The American Polar Society (http://www.ampolarsociety.org/index.html)   He was director of the Bartol Research Institute, now at the University of Delaware.   
Martin A. Pomerantz, December 17, 1916 to October 25, 2008.  
For more information see:    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_A._Pomerantz

November: The first LC130 Hercules aircraft and off to Christchurch!

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)