Wednesday, January 23, 2008

R&R Continued, and back at Pole

We had a nice flight back to Pole today. I slept pretty much the entire way, which was nice for a change. Everybody was eager to hear how things went, and I had one lady tell me that I look different compared to before I left. I wouldn't doubt it, since I'm feeling pretty much recharged and loose without nearly as much accumulated stress as I had a week ago. I eased back into the daily science project checks and put my room back together (somebody did end up using it while I was gone).

I also had a nasty little surprise. Here I was all fired to up get my first iPod. The package arrived while I was gone, and I was looking forward to getting to use it once I got back to Pole. Well, one of the seams on the box had been forced, and though the silicone case I ordered was there, the iPod had been taken by some unkind member of society. That's pretty rotten anytime, but to steal from somebody who doesn't have a chance to replace it before they're locked away in a Fortress of Solitude for most of a year is just asking for some seriously nasty bad karmic blow back for their actions. Anyhow, I'll fill you in on the remainder of my R&R experience:

Here is a cropped view of three Adelie penguins we spotted on that tour of Scott's Discovery Hut:

Two other guys and I went on a nice 7-mile hike to climb Castle Rock. CR is a prominent outcrop on the Hut Point Peninsula, but is back towards the center of Ross Island. It has great view of Erebus, when it's not overcast, as is a really nice way to get out and away from the noise and bustle of town. On our way out to the rock it was quite overcast and Erebus was nowhere to be seen:

The climb to the top isn't too strenuous, but it's probably good that they have fixed ropes there as safety devices. This year there was a lot more snow on the rock than last year at the same time, so it was interesting (and a lot easier) climbing in the different conditions.

With the bird's eye view of the surroundings it was really neat to look at all the dappled patterns the broken clouds were making on the sea ice and ice sheet:

The clouds finally disappeared while we were hiking back to town, and the view changed dramatically with Erebus looming in the background. It's amazing that this volcano is like 35 miles away:

I did get a chance to examine the new inflatable lunar habitat they have deployed out by the Science Support Center in McMurdo. It's being used there in McMurdo to see how well the design handles the wear and tear of use in the field. I can't imagine that it provides much radiation protection, which will be vital on the Moon, but perhaps for the shorter missions it will provide adequate management of the radiation dose that crew members will receive. I didn't get a chance to go inside it, but the exterior at least looks pretty cool. The white reinforcing patches for all the tie-downs reminded me of Japanese patterns you'd see people wearing in "Shogun" or other samurai movies.


Becky said...

Sorry to hear about your iPod-that's a real bummer. Just remember, folks have been coping down there for a long time-even before the internet existed. Of course, they got to talk to their dogs.

AaroN said...

Pretty balsy to steal something like that with a limited number of folks on the ice. I guess stealing an iPod is a bit less profound than stealing a less common object.

EthanG said...

I'm more apt to think this happened somewhere in the U.S. or N.Z. customs processes. There have been instances where bottles of liquor show up empty in packages people have sent down. It doesn't seem to happen too often, but I must have just gotten lucky this time.