Date: Friday, Jan 10 1997
From: Ann Devereaux, Palmer Station
(Ann is on the NASA ACTS Satellite team)
Before we can do the final installation of the big dish, we have to make sure that the whole, irreplaceable thing won't be blown over by the winds, often over 30 mph. The facilities people here at Palmer come up with a solution, and proceed to bolt down the antenna pedestal to the metal patio of T5. Ironically, even after this is done we aren't able to install the dish right away, because the winds are so strong that we're afraid that even with 3 or 4 people we won't be able to hold it in place while it is being attached to the frame. For a few hours, then, we unpack the rest of our things, run some internal tests on the radio equipment, and anxiously watch out the door for a break in the steady wind. Finally, late in the day, all of a sudden I realize that I haven't been quite so cold for a while, and yell to my buddies to get out quickly and haul the dish up to the patio while the wind has slowed. 15 minutes later it is finished, and we finally have something that *looks like an official satellite station.* Being up in the penthouse means you don't get many visitors, though, so we are grateful for any admirers who happen to wander up our way to see our brand-new station.
Since tonight was the last night in port for the Polar Duke, before it left on the month-long science cruise, the station personnel held a party in the lounge. Though normally the Duke inhabitants eat on the ship, where there are provisions for them, for this occasion the Palmer cooks prepare over a dozen huge pizzas, and invite all comers. Afterwards, there was good company over the small bar and in the pool/dance room, holding perhaps 70 people. The Palmer electrician even set up a miniature "disco" ball with flashing colored lights; don't worry, there was a good mix of all types of music (not disco!) and everyone had a good time. The realities of heating buildings in the Antarctic means that there is not a lot of free space; every building serves many purposes. In this case, the lounge is in the same building, and on the same floor, as half of the dormitory-style rooms of the station. Because of this, any party, no matter what the occasion, must be shut down early, by 11 or 12, so as to respect the sleeping requirements of those who are unlucky enough to have beds within 20 ft of the festivities.