Saturday, January 28, 2012

Late-Summer Field Work (sans HAL)

One of the aspects of the science support work down at Pole seems to be an increasingly lopsided distribution of site visits by various groups that make use of the technicians for on-site support. The trend seems to rapidly have become having most/nearly all of the projects down within roughly a 2-week window in late January. In about 2 days that window will close for me after a couple of somewhat challenging weeks supporting what was ultimately 4 different groups, with 3 of them overlapping for a day or so at one point.

One project had a lot of field work in the antenna field beyond ARO. It included the removal of two antennas put up the last summer I was here (2009-2010), and their replacement with the construction of a single radio mast nearly 40 feet tall.

Another antenna, actually located in the edge of the Clean Air Sector, required replacement of its preamplifier (buried in a plywood box at the base of the supporting structure) and the actual antenna wire itself.

All in all, things went pretty well with the site visits. That being said, we did find one camera dome shattered on the roof of the station (cause: TBD) for a different project, and another project had an instrument fail roughly 8 hours after the 3-person team that came to do the annual maintenance on it departed for McMurdo. Like I said, it was not too bad a summer site visit season, but it had its challenges. Repairs for the project that failed at ~8 hours reminded me of the AE-35 unit replacement in “2001: A Space Odyssey”, minus the murderous artificial intelligence, since I had to perform a swap of the AD-975 unit for the SQO SAU. Despite the harsh conditions of Antarctica, acronyms blossom in abundance.

Kinks with hiring and the new contractor continue to be ironed out, but the flow of information is pretty slow. I suppose any organization selected would have its fair share of challenges trying to take over operations down here. It will be interesting to see what contracts for the last 7.5 months of winter end up looking like after numerous assurances of a seamless turnover from the incumbent to the new contractor and subcontractors. How new contracts start developing for the 2012-13 summer will also be watched closely by many program participants, as may well be imagined.

The 27 January deadline for NASA astronaut applications has also now passed. At least I will have plenty to keep me busy while playing the waiting game to hear whether I make it to another step in that process. Ad astra per aspera.
“Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.”
~Karl Von Clausewitz

2 comments:

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Rev Chong said...

Hey EG. Was wondering how the transition was going. After some initial buzz here things have gone quiet. Lots of jobs posted on the PAE web site.
Keep the faith
C