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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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Jagged line
  Saturday, December 31, 2005

Today felt quite cold due to 15-20 knot winds. A knot is equal to 1.1 miles, so the wind was pretty strong. It was overcast and blowing snow all day. The blowing snow drifted and got into equipment and eyes and noses. Because many of the students had worked quite late into the night, Dr. Gogineni allowed them to sleep late and begin work around 9:30. The work of the day for all members of the team was to finish connecting the SAR antenna sleds to the Piston Bully, calibrate the SAR radar and take the radar out for a test run.

Because of miserable conditions, it took quite a while to complete these tasks. For example, one of the tasks was to connect some emergency cables to the sled, so that it would not come loose if the primary cable should break. This job, which would ordinarily take only about 30 minutes, took nearly 2 hours to complete. The snow would immediately cover any tool or dropped part and the cable had to be attached by lying down in the snow. Claude and Richard stayed out until the job was done. Meanwhile, Pannir continued to hook up the radar and calibrate it. The equipment had to be placed in a garbage bag and Pannir and Abdul took turns in the wind and cold making the different connections for the calibration. Fastening the tiny nuts for these connections required much dexterity and perseverance while wearing gloves. Much hot water and tea was drunk in order to get the job done right and still stay warm. Late in the afternoon, Prasad, Pannir, Eric and David took the radar out for a 2-km test run. The Pisten Bully pulled the sleds with no problem, but it looks like it might have a radiator leak that will need to be fixed by the WAIS camp mechanic tomorrow.

The radar was able to image the bed of the ice and show the stratigraphy of the layers quite clearly on this test run. The team was quite excited and pleased by these preliminary results. Tomorrow the plan is to have at least two shifts run the SAR grid and collect complete data on the grid. If we have decent weather and the Pisten Bully holds up, the SAR data collection should be finished in just a few days.

Since it was New Year's Eve today, the kitchen staff prepared a wonderful formal dinner for us. They prepared prime rib, ham and tofu steaks as the main dishes and had a very tasty potato casserole, brocolli, and shrimp with cocktail sauce. Dessert was cheesecake or birthday cake. It was the birthday of Kevin, one of the Raytheon staff members. The tables were set with white tablecloths and everyone in camp was present. Joel and Jennifer helped with the dinner setup in the afternoon as part of our team's contribution to supporting the general camp activities. While we were having dinner, one of the members of the deep ice core drilling team came by and gave us some glacier ice for our drinks. This ice was over 20,000 years old. Can you imagine? When put into a liquid, it cracks and sputters, making a "party" noise. It also tasted quite refreshing. What a great way to spend New Year's Eve. We wish everyone at home a Happy New Year. May it be filled with great successes, good health and happiness!

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

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