sunriseWe had a break in the weather at dinnertime, and this bright orange thing showed up.

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Sun’s Up

first sunAlthough I announced over All Call yesterday morning that “The Sun’s Up”, it was not technically true. What we saw was the reflection of the Sun off clouds a long way away, but it was our first peek at the Sun in half a year.

sky before sunrise

Opposite the sun, we could see just a sliver of the retreating night sky.

Weather has gotten a bit breezier since these photos, so the horizon is now obscured. Hopefully the weather will clear up in time for us to have a chance at seeing the green flash!

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Talking With Curiosity Team

jpl phonecallWe recently had a phone conference call with the Curiosity rover team at JPL, it was neat to connect with some folks outside of the usual Antarctic circles who have an idea of what it’s like to work in such a remote and hostile environment.

JPL’s presentation was really well put together and interesting. I can’t really say the same for our end, but we’ve spent the last several months at the South Pole (vs California), so I suppose we have a good excuse. One of the sections of JPL’s presentation dealt with the time shift that happens due to Mars having a day that’s a bit longer than ours, which is much like the way our satellite connectivity shifts a bit earlier each day.


And, of course, JPL included one of my favourite photos:

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main station at dawnYesterday, I made a few trips back-and-forth between the main station and the dark sector – for work in the morning and for a machine shop project in the evening. Weather was beautiful for walking around outside: calm and clear with some wispy clouds in the distance, and relatively mild temperatures.

We’re looking forward to sunrise in a few days, stay tuned!

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A side-effect of working down here – with income but no expense, physical isolation but also Internet connection – is that many of us here tend to “window shop”. Friends of mine have left this sort of gig with piles of new toys, lots of photos, and not much to show for the effort remaining in the bank. Availability of “pro deals” doesn’t help the situation. Overall, I think I’m doing pretty good so far – school is all paid off and the retirement account got it’s biggest contribution so far…

That said, when I’m on my way North, I fully intend to go with a fancy new set of noise cancelling headphones for the tens of thousands of miles of flying I’ll be doing. Little widgets you can stick in your ears to make there be even less noise than there would be with earplugs, but with music if you desire. And, there’s probably going to be a packraft in my bag on the way back South to New Zealand, I just need to figure out what colour (and what paddle…).

On paper, and through the grapevine, I’ve heard packrafts are amazing. Essentially, it’s a very lightweight and tough pool toy meant for rugged outdoor travel. For probably less than 3kg, it’s a boat+paddle+PFD that’s fully capable of handling flat or whitewater, with all of one’s backpacking gear aboard. For a small weight (and of course $) penalty, but providing better handling, that gear can be stashed inside the tubes!

Modern technology blows my mind sometimes. 

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Window Covers

galley window coversSeveral considerations go into the issue of light pollution here during the winter, with the net effect being that the windows of the station are blocked off with pieces of cardboard rather than the inbuilt blinds. Some of these window covers are just plain pieces from old boxes, others are decorated with paintings, collages, game show style spinners, etc. The window in my room is covered first with cardboard, then with woven 8mm data tape.

Today, we got the OK to take the window covers down. At dinner, a weird new colour was visible out the end of the galley. I think it’s called “orange” or maybe “peach”? Sounds delicious either way.

For the most part, there’s nothing to see yet in the many-paned, aluminium-framed, windows now except for a glossy (and pale) reflection of oneself, the glow on the horizon, or the moon. Although it’s been easy to see outside unaided for some time now, our windows are tinted against the intense summer sunlight. So, the view outside from in makes the outside look deceivingly dark – it’s like a one-way mirror, pointing in.

dz window cover removed

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Staying Busy

nerf in the labWe recently found a couple toy guns with suction cup darts, stashed in a drawer. So, we have been busy with random pranks around station.

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