Field Update: Nov. 11, 2010

We brought our science cargo to the helicopter pad after lunch to prepare for our flight to the ANDRILL camp at Coulman High on Friday. We tagged and weighed each item and then put them in a wooden cart for transport to the helicopter by an all-wheel vehicle just prior to the flight tomorrow. Our cart was painted black and named “Ninja” (image courtesy of Claude Laird).

Hazardous science cargo, such as lithium batteries, need to be turned in for special handling at least 72 hours before flight, but we didn’t have any on the flight we were planning this week, so we only had to check-in our science cargo 24 hours before the scheduled flight. Looking ahead, we made sure that the oceanographers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), who were arriving from Christchurch on Saturday, had enough information about the McMurdo system to be able to test their instruments, prepare their cargo, which included lithium batteries, and get ready for their flight out to Coulman High next week once we were already out there.

We thought about what personal things we needed to bring with us, which depended on how long we were each going to be staying at the ANDRILL Coulman High camp, which ranged from a week for Claude Laird, two weeks for myself, several weeks for Richard Levy, and almost three months for Dar Gibson. We made sure that the laundry was done and that we had all of our ECW sorted out and available to bring on the helicopter with us tomorrow, then we turned our attention to longer-term questions such as our check-out and return to McMurdo. If we were going into the field for more than three weeks we had to check out of our room and turn in our key to McMurdo Housing, but if the trip was less than three weeks, then we could stay where we were. Richard, who is the PI for the New Zealand team was over at Scott Base, so he had another set of rules that he was working under and didn’t need to worry about the American issues. Finally, we wrote email or called home, recognizing that any communications to or from Coulman High were only possible using the Iridium phone until the antenna tower and repeater on Mount Terror was serviced and the batteries replaced, and/or until a data link from Conical Hill to CH using another tower and antenna, with additional equipment at the CH camp, was installed.

We were ready to return to the field and continue to prepare for a season of hot water drilling, oceanographic sensor deployments, and geophysical experiments that would tell us about the environmental conditions beneath the ice shelf and a the surface of the ice where we would be living for the coming days, weeks and months. It was time for a final night of relaxation and then we would rejoin our team at the ANDRILL Coulman High camp.

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