Coming Together

Gondola and Lloro During my first week in Antarctica, we completed the final preparations to join the cryostat (aka Llorothaag, or Lloro) to the balloon gondola that will support Lloro during the flight. The two systems were broadly complete already, with Lloro vacuum sealed and pre-cooling full of liquid nitrogen. But there were lots of little things to fix with cables, insulation, and testing. The week culminated in Spider finally coming together as a complete unit. I was able to spend my first full day out at our Long Duration Balloon facility (LDB), which we commute to each day from McMurdo Station. After catching up with everyone, I spent much of the next couple days on mandatory training for new arrivals, before finally being able to get back to work. My arrival made the field team almost complete, just waiting for Bill. The weekend after my arrival was American Thanksgiving, one of the big celebration days in McMurdo, and one of the rare two-day weekends (though, alas, not for me, as I paid the price for arriving so late). We managed to have the whole team together for the celebration meal, with both different shifts together. We were joined by a couple others: a colleague waiting to travel to the South Pole for a related project, as well as our wonderful chef out at LDB. Note also that for this campaign I’ve brought a film camera (Nikon FM) with me. So there will be a bunch of photos, mostly from outside, that I won’t be posting until after I’ve returned home and had the film developed. […]

It begins!

The "best" tree At least for me it does. Much of the team has been deployed for a while. I was supposed to be in the second wave, but ended up delayed for almost a while month. But at least I made it to Christchurch on the way to McMurdo. I had one pleasant afternoon here, amongst a lot of rainy days. So I went to the Botanical Garden to say hello to green things for maybe the last time in a while. My mission was to find the best tree. There were many contenders, but I think I succeeded. […]