Kite Boarding

Ed controls the kite Yesterday we learned not to trust weather forecasts that say conditions are nice in McMurdo. Because they aren’t. By which I mean our flight was delayed again. Ed and I spent the day starting on Ed’s dream of learning to kite surf. We took the bus out to New Brighton and visited a kite sports and appliance store (the appliances are the money maker). For our introductory lesson (on land) we mostly learned to control the kite. We also spent a little time with a board, not entirely unlike a skateboard. We achieved small spurts of wind-powered motion! [...]


Upwards Due to terrible weather in McMurdo, our flight was delayed 24 hours. To pass the time, we took the bus towards Lyttleton, and walked over the Bridle Path. This is where early settlers crossed from the port towards Christchurch. [...]


At the Botanical Gardens Anne, Ed, and I have deployed as SPIDER’s first wave. Yesterday was our regularly-scheduled full day in Christchurch. This starts with a trip to the clothing distribution center (CDC) to get our extreme cold weather (ECW) clothing. Afterwards, we wandered around, explored Christchurch, and had some great food and drinks. Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake in early 2011, but repair and reconstruction has progressed remarkably. [...]

Gondola Party in Princeton

Team TorontoThe Toronto Spider team made a trip to Princeton at the beginning of April to put the gondola back together. While Theo had been a-salt-ed by the ocean during its pointless trip to New Zealand (not to Antarctica…thanks, US congress) the gondola survived the trip just fine. Most of the rust accumulation seems to have been in our heads, as there were more hiccups that usual getting everything together successfully. We were very lucky to arrive during the very brief magical time while the Princeton highbay transitions from freezing cold to hot and humid. For this trip, I was armed (photographically) with just my Nikon FM, a 50mm lens, and a roll of Superia 400. [...]

McMurdo 2012: In Review

Group photo Some of my favourite photos from the BLAST-Pol launch campaign. November 2012 to January 2013 in McMurdo Station, Antarctica. This is just a collection of previously-uploaded photos. Titles and captions may not all make sense without their original context. [...]

Palestine 2013: In Review

CSBF Some of my favourite photos from the Spider integration campaign. June to August 2013 in Palestine, TX. This is just a collection of previously-uploaded photos. Titles and captions may not all make sense without their original context. [...]

Wrapping Up

Midair cryostat With Theo warmed up, there was nothing left to do in the campaign but take everything apart and pack. There was a lot to disassemble, and even more to pack, but we had a large group of people who were all pretty motivated to finish. There were still a couple long days, not to mention exhausting hours inside the sauna of a sea container in the Texas sun. But that was no match for lightening hearts, and the simple pleasure of well-packed boxes. We even managed to relax a little in the last few days. Now, we’ve all gone our separate ways. But it won’t be long before we’re together again in Antarctica doing this all again—and more! [...]

Tiny Kitten

Yes, you are very cute More animals! A little while ago, Becky found a tiny kitten around CSBF. After gaining his trust with a few days of food, she nabbed him. She has since decided that she will bring him home with her. In another case of finding things in Texas to bring home, Sean got a compound bow. This gives us another, more tactile, way to shoot things. I also decided, this being a cat on the internet, that it had to be memed. [...]


Spider, being compatible One week ago we passed our Compatibility test. This involves fully assembling Spider and CSBF electronics and making sure that everything works together, while sitting outside. It also involves Tiny Tim, everyone’s favourite ridiculously-sized launch vehicle. Compatibility is the primary reason the Palestine campaign happens, so this is a big milestone. Aside from a few more detector tests before shutting down our own systems, this also marks the beginning of the end of the campaign. [...]

Solar Panels, Compatibility Prep

Poking out of the highbay There was a ton of work to do in the week leading up to compatibility. (Sadly, this means not so many pictures.) We had failed to adequately consider solar panel frames until a little late in the campaign, so there was a rush to get this together. Anne did most of the work, and because I’d dumped the job on her, I felt compelled to help when I could. Many others helped as well. Or did other jobs. Everyone was busy. [...]