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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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  Friday, July 15, 2005

This morning we assembled in the Big House for breakfast by around 7:45 a.m., eating cereals and such, and getting ready for the day ahead of us. The weather was amazing, and it was perfect for working on the sleds and for the three flights, which could not come in yesterday because of bad weather, to arrive today. The temperature was around -8 C with light winds. All morning the team was busy working. Tim worked on programming the gyro system for the plane-wave radar in the WeatherPort. The rest of the team worked on the two SAR radar antenna sleds outside � one large sled and one about half that size. The big sled is for the transmitting antennas and the small sled is for the receiving antennas. As we were working, the winds began to pick up, so we tried to work more efficiently and quickly as a team.

One LC-130 flight arrived around 9 a.m., offloaded passengers and cargo, and then took off again within an hour. The second flight arrived within a half hour after the first flight departed, but while it was on the ground, the weather began to change rapidly for the worst. Visibility was decreasing, the wind speed was increasing, and the wind direction was shifting so the wind was blowing across the ski-way instead of downward. This is called a crosswind and it makes it difficult for planes to land and take off. The changing weather conditions inhibited the LC-130 from departing. A third flight was scheduled to leave Kangerlussuaq by 2:00 p.m. and arrive at Summit by 4:00 p.m., but with the deteriorating weather, it was doubtful that the plane would make it in today.

By lunch time we had completed the base of the big sled, and also assembled most of the small sled. Lunch had many options, as usual including meat loaf, mashed potatoes, beef gravy, lentil casserole, fresh fruit, and desserts. The cooks prepare the food from supplies provided by a company called Sysco and delivered to Stratton Air Force Base in New York, where it is packed and flown on an LC-130 to Summit.. Fresh fruits and vegetables are flown in about every two weeks. There is enough dry, frozen and canned food to last about a year. The frozen foods are kept in a large snow cave next to the Big House, with the dry and canned food stored in the Big House itself. Summit is a year- round camp with large fluctuations in the population. Right now there are about 48 people in the camp, but the population drops to 4 people during the winter months.

By the time we were done with lunch and ready to begin work again, the winds were up to 20 knots (23 miles per hour) bringing the wind chill temperature down to -2.3 Fahrenheit (-19.1 Celsius). So the team came inside the WeatherPort to work on other projects, hoping that the weather would improve in the afternoon so that they could finish the sled. As the afternoon progressed it was obvious that the weather was not going to relent. So members kept busy in the WeatherPort preparing the radar and GPS systems. The sky started to clear and the wind died down to about 14 knots, so the crew of the stranded LC-130 flight that had been here since the morning decided to attempt to take off.

Our dinner was again outstanding, consisted of baked chicken breast, pork tenderloins, zucchini kugal, tofu kugal, broccoli, rice, salad, and carrot cake or mint ice cream. The ice cream is made at night, usually by Katie, who is one of the science technicians and is also the camp medic. She mixes milk, sugar, chopped up Andes mints, and liquid nitrogen in a mixing bowl. The liquid nitrogen freezes the milk and evaporates, leaving ice cream!

After dinner the weather improved a great deal, so we resumed assembling the antenna sleds. The winds were now 16 miles per hour (14 knots) and the wind chill temperature was a �comfortable� 3 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 Celsius). Again we stopped when the winds picked up and the temperatures dropped, but the assembly was nearly complete by then. We decided to finish the final assembly in the morning. Meanwhile, the LC-130 that had landed in the morning was still trying to get off the ice. They finally gave up around 9 p.m., parked the airplane, and are now preparing to spend the night at Summit.

NOTE: This was entire journal entry, not just page 1.

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