"Visiting the Pole"

Apirl Lloyd - January 9, 1995

    Today the LFA test went well. Elizabeth was out at the Pole and I was in the SPIREX building with Mark Hereld, the principal investigator of SPIREX. At first, it was difficult to tell who was talking on the headset and it was weird to be hearing familiar voices from so far away. All in all, the test went well and I am feeling confident that we will have a good show from the Pole end of things.

After the test, I got a ride back to the dome with the Jim Gardner, the "mayor" of South Pole. He will be on the Live From Antarctica show talking about the redesign issues. After lunch, I worked on the mosaic pages that I have created for my adventures here. It is frustrating not to have consistent access to the satellite to upload information and I need to answer lots of questions as well as get journal updates out.

Tonight I went to the Meteorological Center to watch the launch of a balloon. The balloon takes information about the temperature, humidity and air pressure, which is used primarily for aircraft data. I added pictures from the QuickTake to my Web documents. Tomorrow, the NOAA folks launch a balloon so it will be interesting to compare the information they collect and their process of launching the balloon.

I am going to visit the clean air facility again to take more pictures of Kate McNitt and some of the experiments she conducts. When I visited before, I listened and asked questions. Now I want to go back and take pictures to document my visit. When you tour the facility, you get a patch and a vial of the "cleanest air in the world." I kept having dreams that I broke my vial of air!

The most difficult thing to remember here is to drink water. Often my eyes get dry and scratchy and my mouth gets cottony and I know that I need to get 16 oz. or so of water back into my system. It is hard to keep up with fluid intake and everyone jokes around here about how often you have to go to the bathroom because you have to drink so much water. It is really a pain when you wake up in the middle of the night and have to get dressed to walk over to the bathroom. Bathrooms here are called "head modules" and I frequent one called "ice palace."

I have taken two showers since I've been here, but I wash in the sink each morning. I figured out how to wash my hair in the sink using my water bottle. I have it down to a science and only use one-and-a-half bottles to get clean! I have also only done my laundry once here at South Pole. Frequently there are "brown outs," which mean power needs to be conserved and laundry and other nonessential activities are stopped until power returns to normal.

The fact that we have had limited Internet connection makes anything other than electronic mail difficult. The local area network, cues messages in electronic mail, but any work that needs to be done on home servers cannot be done unless there is a lock on the satellite. Unfortunately, lately we have had demands upon satellite time that have limited our online capabilities. This is not only bad for those of us wanting to connect educationally, but also for the scientists who need data and collaboration from colleagues back home.

I hope to be able to spend some more time in McMurdo finishing up the loose ends and answering more questions as well as possibly experiencing more of the exciting science that goes on here. Meeting Diana Freckman and the Rancho Penguino crew was exciting. After seeing them live on TV [during Live From Antarctica's second program], it was fascinating to talk to them in person and to have some background in common. I hope to be able to visit the new penguins that Dr. Kooyman has corralled near McMurdo upon my return. Elizabeth and I also want to do some hiking over Castle Rock and Observatory Hill and to visit the Scott hut right there at McMurdo.

Well, that's all for today...gotta go fill my water bottle! April Lloyd

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