The past few days have been quite busy with working at CosRay disassembling the enclosures of the Neutron Monitors. We moved 10 tons of lead, twice! In the beginning we needed the lead to be out of the way so that we would be able to work and cut the platform that we needed to down to size. After we got that all configured we were able to begin moving items into crates to be shipped off to a Korean base in Antarctica. The Neutron Monitors here in McMurdo is one of the oldest experiments running in Antarctica. So working on this project has been quite unique.
The lead was a little trick to move as each yoke of lead weighed over 200 pounds! However, we worked with the carpenters here and they were able to design a specially built ramp to make the moving of the lead into the crates much easier, and more efficient. We worked in a team of five to move all this lead into crates and then into a container. Four of us would load the crate full of six yokes of lead and then the forklift operator was able to get each of these pallets out of the building.
After a long day’s work we got to see some of the beautiful sights here. We hiked up a mountain known as Observation Hill(featured image above) which has an absolutely gorgeous view. Not only did we climb up a mountain and get to look at the view down, but we also were able to go underneath the ice in something called an Observation tube, we were able to see thousands of tiny fish swimming around outside, along with some Jellyfish. If you listened close you could hear the sounds of creatures making high pitched noises.
Not only are the sights amazing, but the people that you meet here are probably some of the most interesting people around. As you talk to these people you can see the passion that they have for their science, the discoveries that they’ve made. If you think you’ve done some interesting things all you have to do is talk to someone here and you will see how truly amazing people can be.
We arrived in McMurdo on Wednesday of last week, it took about a 5 hour plane trip but we finally landed on the ice. The first day was more relaxed, as we settled in. Shortly after that though we began to work, the next day we had a meeting with some support to help us get our project moving.
Over the past few days we have been taking trips out to CosRay, this is building the Neutron Monitors are kept. It’s a little walk away from the base, but the view from walking is pretty amazing. At CosRay there are three sections of Neutron Monitors, our mission is to dissemble one of these sections and change the shape and dimensions of the platform that it stands on in order to move this to a Korean Station.
As we started we began disconnecting and disassembling the entire platform, and removed the monitors. This took a lot of work as there was 10 tons of lead that had to be moved. After all the heavy lifting we began planning a new configuration for the section as it had to now fit into a shipping container. Using a three dimensional drawing software we were able to plan what we needed. Today we began to implement the plan, and started doing the actual cutting of the platform. So far we are off to a very good start on our project. Tomorrow we will be configuring the insolation size, as well as a few other odds and ends.
Happy Birthday Sam: Sam turned 21 yesterday (which is actually tomorrow in the US?)!
We have had a couple of good days of work, and I got a rare chance Sunday to go out to Cape Royds where a friend does research on the penguin colony there. It is the furthest colony inward, and the smallest in the area with a few thousand birds. The other two places have ~50, 000 and more than 500,000 birds respectively. So most of the penguins have more sense than to setup house so far from the open water. These are the loners or those that just like the exercise I guess. Cape Royds is also historically famous because it has Ernest Shackleton’s shack from his 1907 expedition.
Sam is working hard. We have taken the neutron monitor down-moved 10 tons of lead! And then dissembled the enclosures, which were quite dirty. They needed to do a fair amount of grading outside in order to get a forklift and truck that can carry the shipping container near the CosRay building. We are hoping to be mostly done by the end of the week but that depends on when the special forklift needed will be available.
Editor’s note: Sam Gardner, intern from summer 2014, is on his way to McMurdo Station in Antarctica. He will be blogging about his trip, stay tuned.
As we were flying we had a long layover in Sydney, Australia. This gave us a chance to take in some of the amazing sights. We even got lunch at the Oldest Pub in Sydney, and what was even more surprising is that they had the packers game playing live on the television. After we explored Sydney we headed back to the airport in order to catch our flight to New Zealand. After what felt like endless flying finally we arrived in New Zealand. We arrived late Monday night, and finally got to sleep in an actual bed. This morning we went to the United States Antarctica program building in order to receive our cold weather gear. Things are actually beginning to sink in, as we tried on all of our gear and packed bags to be headed to Antarctica. It is amazing, and a bit frightening at the same time, but more exciting than anything else!
After we received our gear we got the chance to explore Christchurch a little bit, so we decided to take a trip down to the harbor and see some of what New Zealand had to offer, the sites of all these countries are just beautiful to see. As the day of leaving for Antarctica comes closer the excitements builds further! Tomorrow, hopefully, we will be in McMurdo, then after getting acclimated we will start with our mission!
As we get to McMurdo I will hopefully be able to post an update!