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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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Chapter 24 -McMurdo - Vehicles

When we returned to McMurdo, we were interested in all the different types of vehicles that passed through the town and left tire tracks. So we went up to the vehicle maintenance shop to see what we could find and to learn more about them.

One of the biggest vehicles is the TerraBus. It seats 50 people and has storage for some baggage under the side. This is the vehicle we used to get to McMurdo when we came in from New Zealand. It was built in Sweden. It travels very slowly. It takes about an hour to drive from the Pegasus runway to McMurdo. We didn't ask if it went so slowly for safety or if it couldn't go any faster because of its size and the weight of the passengers.

This is a Delta. It holds about 20 people if you crowd up a LOT. It is very high up off the ground, so there are stairs at the back that that driver pulls down so the passengers can get a ride. We rode in a Delta after our plane brought us back to McMurdo from WAIS Divide camp.

A Delta is similar to a Hagglund which you saw in the Happy Camper school pictures except a Hagglund floats and a Delta doesn't. The driver told us this when we were on the ice shelf, which is where the glacier ice is floating on the water. We would have preferred he keep that information to himself. We also learned that the Delta has trapdoors in the roof to use for escape in case of an accident. Riding in the Delta is a very bumpy experience even though its top speed is 25 miles an hour!

There was a very old John Deere tractor up at the vehicle maintenance shed, so we asked them what it was used for. They said there was a magnet under it and that they drove it along the streets to pick up nails and other metal junk that could puncture the tires of other vehicles. We had to go back to look at the magnet which was quite large.

Some of the pickups in town had tracks instead of tires. We thought they looked so neat. Tracks are probably really good in the winter or if the trucks have to go out on the ice shelf, but they didn't seem to be needed in town during the summer.

Our very favorite vehicle though was this big Cat. We could own the road if we were allowed to drive this!


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