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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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  Thursday, December 29, 2005

Today was a big day for lots of reasons. The people at McMurdo were excited because the Russian icebreaker, Krasin, came into port today. You could see it from the streets of McMurdo. This means that the wildlife such as seals, penguins and whales should show up now that there is open water. It was really interesting watching the ship come into port. Icebreakers work by moving up onto the ice and having it break beneath them as they move over it. I noticed that there was a "Survival Russian" class going on several days last week, so that people in camp can talk to the sailors when they come in.

We were excited because today was our flight to WAIS to join the rest of our team. We had a great flight and got here with no incidents. The ride was very smooth and we now are at WAIS. Several people at WAIS were waiting to fly out as was a cargo of ice cores from the drilling site. Among the people was our team member, Torry Akins, and our National Science Foundation project manager, Julie Palais. It was great to see everyone, even if we only saw some for half an hour.

The crew here has been working hard. They used the rover in manual drive to pull the plane wave radar for about 30 minutes today. Pannir did some processing of the data and it seems to look quite promising. The communications group helped put the Virtual Dashboard on the rover so there is near-real time video on the PRISM site (under Virtual PRISM if you click on the Virtual Dashboard link. The site takes a couple of downloads if you don't have certain applet viewers, but I am told that the videos look quite good. The accumulation radar antennas were assembled. The rover team did some troubleshooting on a gryoscope instability problem that is made autonomous travel unreliable. They then did a test run and it looks like they might have fixed the problem. We had a team meeting soon after arrival about setting up shifts to run the SAR bistatic and monostatic radars beginning tomorrow, if at all possible. We brought in a Pisten Bully for the SAR radar to ensure that it can stay warm enough. As soon as the mechanic checks the Pisten Bully out and we get the radar mounted, we should be up and running 10-12 hours a day.

Temperatures here are a little colder than McMurdo. It was -16 C when we arrived with very little wind. It is quite awesome here. Just a huge stretch of unbroken ice, except for our camp. It's a great camp, lots of helpful people and reasonable amenities such as a shower facility, three outhouses and a huge galley. So we should all be quite comfortable.

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

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