the saga continues
Welcome back to my second winter. The first one was just too short, so I had to come back :)).
My work didn't change very much GASP and SPASE-1 were removed during the 97/98 summer season
and now I also take care of AASTO and do some electrical work for the CARA telescopes.
(Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array)
(South Pole Air Shower Experiment)
(Radio Ice Cerenkov Experiment)
AASTO (Automated Astronomical Site-Testing
CARA (Center for Astrophysical Research
What's new (last update 07.11.98)
What happened so far
Daily weather report
Last weeks weather report
Last month weather report
Satellite image from Antarctica
links (Antarctica and others)
The summer started down here. The station opened only 2 days late on the 28th of October.
Since then the hectic is back and more than half of our winter-over crew returned to the green
world. If the weather is permitting I will follow end of next week. To avoid the German winter
I will travel until beginning of April, mainly in New Zealand.
2 1/2 month are already between the last update and this one and quite a few things happened.
September was the month of the great colors as closer we came to sunrise on the 22nd of this
month as more shades of yellow, orange and red were in the sky. Like last year the sun was
visible the first time right during the sunrise party on the 22nd. It didn't look promising at all
but there it was again. We even could see some green flashes for quite a while. The sun was already
over the horizon, but once in while the upper portions separated from the disk and they appeared
The month of October was mainly to prepare the station for the upcoming summer season. Everybody
kicked in and all the opening tasks were accomplished in time.
On the 26th of October the first two planes were scheduled, but the visibility was not good enough
for them to land so they had to return to McMurdo. We were all glad to have some extra days, but on
on the 28th were the second attempt, this time in nice weather, and the first 2 planes made it.
It was nice to get some freshies, also it wasn't much and I would love to have a banana after 9
month, but I guess I have to wait until I'm back in NZ. The summer crew jumped right into it and
construction work started right away. Little mountains of snow are moved every day and the excavation
process is quick, it took only a few days to dig out one end of the fuel arch. The fuel bladders
will be exchanged for stainless steel tanks. The freshie shack was enlarged and construction on the
new garage started.
Well that's it for now, thanks for all the nice entries in the guestbook and all the emails.
Best greetings, still from the South Pole.
What happened so far
Well here I'm back at the South Pole for another winter :))). After I left in November, I
had 2 1/2 month off. Most of the time I spent in New Zealand traveling. Just over Christmas
I went home to Germany to see friends and family for 10 days and on the way I did my medical
and dental examination in Denver, Colorado and spent a few days there.
On February 6th after one day delay I finally made it back to McMurdo. There right in front of
Scott's old hut was a Adélie Penguin. My first Penguin I saw in Antarctica. Because
South Pole is an absolutely sterile environment, there is no (natural) life here at all. So
the only chance to see wildlife is on our way to or from the Pole.
On February 7th I was back home at the Pole :))). Outside quite a bit changed during my short
absence and a lot of construction was done during the summer. I tried to capture some of the
So I got just the last glimpse of the hectic summer and the official station closing
was scheduled on the 14th. All the scientists and most of the ASA personal left that day. Only
about another 50 people stayed on until the 16th to receive the delayed vessel cargo.
The strange thing this year was, after everybody from the summer crew left, we still got several
more flights in. All the important stuff like big junks of steel for next summer and hundreds
of T-shirts for the store (also for next summer) instead of some more freshies or the dark beer,
which made it's way all the way to McMurdo and miraculously got stuck there. Also McMurdo likes
to send their old supplies to the Pole and get their storage area clear for the fresh stuff. So
quite a few times food and beverages arrived here beyond their best before date. Well
we will chew some steel during winter time - everybody needs some Fe (iron) because the spinach
didn't make it either.
The last plane left on the 18th of February - another winter has started at South Pole.
Since then there is the usual after closing period, with tons of unfinished stuff and the closing
These include for example to prepare the summer camp for the winter, flag lines to all the outside buildings
remove runway markers and fuel lines for planes and much, much more.
Most of my experiments are the same from last winter, just better, bigger, faster... :))
New this year is AASTO (Automatic Astronomical Site Testing Observatory) and electronic work
for CARA (Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica).
We now have only one more week of sunlight before our 6 month polar night starts.
I know, I know, it took a while for the update. But I'm getting several new photo pages together
also with some great aurora shots. First of all, thanks to Steffen Richter, I have a
guestbook now and it would be great if you can sign it.
Guess I start with sunset. On March 21 we had a sunset party
in the skylab lounge and the weather
allowed us to get a short glimpse of the sun. It was quite cloudy and so our hopes to see a
green flash were quite small. The next weeks were still bright but slowly the night was wining
the battle. End of April we had a MBONE live talk with a class in Mississippi and that was broadcasted
several days later over the PBS as part of the National Science and Technology week.
We have quite few different classes here. There are French, Spanish, German and Chinese as
languages, math and astronomy and Will our doctor is training some of us to assist in an emergency,
like an appendix surgery and in general medical assistance.
Two of the new great things here on station are our hottub which is placed in the middle of the
dome and the aurora shack on the way to clean air.
To stay out longer and take pictures of aurorae it's nearly essential to have power and a place
to warm up and defrost goggles and glasses. The shack is used frequently and works great.
One of the new pages explains how I keep my camera warm and functioning
at low temperatures. And thanks to Diana and Drew Logan's slide scanner I was able to scan some
of the recent aurora slides. We had already some awesome ones and on May 7th we had some of the
best aurorae I have ever seen. They were as bright as the full moon and very active.
aurora98 - 1
aurora98 - 2
All the satellites from the new
Iridium system are in polar orbits, so we are able to see all of
them. Some are very bright and show up on some of the aurora pictures above.
On one of the computers were some more pictures from the summer, mainly
from the arch construction.
I'm working right now on a new crew page, but that actually harder than
taking pictures of aurorae. The New South Polar Times
has already a crew page of this years crew and some sent articles to the
USA Today Antarctic page.
Another delay. We just finshed a terrible break down week. We lost our two main servers here
at the Pole, problems with experiments... all that has of course a higher priority than updating
Tonight will be solstice and the sun will come back to this side of the planet. It's incredible
how fast the time is flying by. We have a heat wave right now and the thermometer climbed up to
- 38 C (-36.4 F). I actually would prefer much colder temperatures, because that would mean less
wind and clearer skies.
We more or less recovered from the catastrophic week, where a lot of our equipment and computers
went crazy. And we are back in a moon less period. In three month the sun will rise again already.
We had a several parties, also this years attendance is normally not more than 8 people, they
are all great fun. Pictures of those and others are updated now. Photos
The weather wasn't very great recently and the sun activity is quite low, so we didn't had any more
of the awesome aurorae like to the beginning of the night. But I still hoping for the next two
dark periods (moon less periods).
It's getting pretty bright outside and the milky way is not visible any more, every day more
and more stars disappear. Here are more aurora pictures from this winter. Not much comment, but
enjoy the pictures :))).
aurora98 - 3
aurora98 - 4
aurora98 - 5
aurora98 - 6
aurora98 - 7
aurora98 - 8
Back in May we had an appendix test-surgery. Will Silva, our physician, taught three of us
to assist in case of emergency surgery. Appendicitis is about the worst thing we could be faced with down here.
So for several month we met with our doc and got the basics of surgery 101. Each of us would
have a special part during a surgery. So in the end we had a
test-surgery on our cook.
Of course we were
just pretending a surgery to get the preparation and course of events down. Everything
went very smoothly and it was very interesting. But hopefully we will never have a situation
where we have to use it. Just two days ago the station manager from McMurdo was evacuated from
the Ice and flown back to New Zealand due to acute appendicitis. McMurdo has its win-flies
(Winter flights) anyway in a week and the runway was already prepared. Here at South Pole an
evacuation would not be possible until the end of October.
On the 24th of June we had Christmas day. The Galley was decorated like on Christmas Eve and
we even had the traditional gift exchange. Of course we wanted to have a nice dinner for that day,
and also to celebrate midwinter. But ASA headquarters didn't allow us to use any of the 22 whole
turkeys we had here with the argument that they wanted to save it for the summer. Doesn't that sound
quite ridicilous? They wouldn't grant us 2 turkeys for a special dinner like that. Where they
have the possibility to bring in more in the summer and we only wanted 2 - not all of them!!!
One can imagine that that was beyond us. And the turkey issue got really big. After an email
war with Denver we finally got the word on the morning of the 24th, that we can use the turkeys -
of course too late for our dinner, because it takes about 2 days to thaw one. So we had to use
some compressed turkey meat, nothing compared to a real one.
On 4th of July we had a barbecue in the dome and were sitting around a warming fire.
On 13th of July the French class prepared an exquisite French dinner for the crew which was
served in our "Restaurant". See the photos.
On July 19th two others and I could see, independent of one another, the first signs of sunlight. It will be dark in
a common sense until the beginning of September, but stars of m=6 start to disappear in the direction
of the sun. Now after the moon has set, the bright horizon is very obvious.
Led by a Palmer tradition, we had a Road Kill Cafe (Neanderthal Cafe at Palmer) on the 1st of August
It was also our cook's 27th birthday. The turnout was amazingly high for a crazy event like that.
See the roadkill cafe.
The weather this year is much worse than last year and we have already had about twice as many bad
days. Though we have again had some great aurorae. And I'm still hoping to see some more. Soon it will be
too bright and we will have them only in our memories and in some pictures.
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