Another aurora shot off the DA deck, and probably one of my last photos from this winter with the milky way visible. When it’s clear out, it’s not too hard to see where the sun is, so it’s just a matter of time until the sky is too bright for this sort of thing…
This is what the outside of the Logistics Arch and VMF Arch look like from the outside, when they’re reasonably cleared out.
One of the rare times when windchill is relevant here, happened today.
At the far end of the fuel arch is an escape stairwell up to the surface. It’s cold, and very still in the stairwell, so some really interesting frost forms in there – I presume from the breath of the occasional passerby. This photo is of a delicate stalactite of frost, several inches long, hanging off the wall of the stairwell.
Much of the food and fuel we burn here at South Pole is stored in “the arches”. These are essentially big arched steel structures, which are now buried under the snow next to the elevated station. There are four arches; the logistics arch (above), the fuel arch (below), the VMF arch (which is mostly filled by the building we had the Independence day party in) and the power plant arch. The arches aren’t heated, but they are all accessible without going outside, by way of “the beercan”.
Lately, we burn something like 1,100 gallons of fuel per day here in the winter. From memory there are forty-five 10,000 gallon tanks in the fuel arch, arranged into “pods” of five tanks each.
Framegrab from a short video I took to illustrate the flickering lights – they give the fuel arch a really neat industrial feel.
American cake, Canadian snowmobile
A bit over a week ago, we had a fun little party in the VMF – Vehicle Maintenance Facility – to celebrate the 4th. Actually, we had the party on the 5th, when it was the 4th in the US and Saturday here. There was everything you’d expect from a 4th of July party, except the sunshine and fireworks. Most of the vehicles were even moved out to make room for horseshoes:
An interesting game to play on a steel floor
A not-insignifcant portion of our population here is made of cardboard.
C learning to suture, as part of Medical Team training
One unfortunate aspect of life at the South Pole is that most of our food is either frozen, or comes from the limited range of plants we can grow in the hydroponic greenhouse. Our cooks do an awesome job of turning the resources available into excellent food, and of making our limited supply of “freshies” last. Freshies are fruits and vegetables that are flown in from New Zealand; obviously we haven’t gotten any since mid-February, but the cooks managed to keep some carrots edible until just last week: