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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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  Thursday, December 22, 2005

This morning we arrived at the Antarctic Center in Christchurch at 6:30 am to fly to McMurdo. First we changed into our protective gear and packed our street clothng. Then we passed through security and got our boarding passes. The next step was for them to weigh all the checked luggage and put it on a pallet and load it on the plane. That went remarkably quickly, with only 28 passengers boarding the plane. After that we were weighed with our carry-on luggage and then watched a short video about the Antarctic.

We loaded onto a bus wearing our gear and carrying our 30-pound carry-on bags. We were very lucky because our group got to fly on a new C17. This is a jet so it only takes 5 hours to get to the ice. Also, it has several regular seats and much better wall seats than the Hercules. Lastly, this was a brand-new plane with the latest equipment. Though it was noisy, it was pretty plush accomodations. The crew was an Air National Guard crew out of Seattle, Washington.

When we got near Antarctica, the weather was pretty clear so we had some awesome views of the continent and the sea ice through the two small windows near the front of the plane. It really did look like the satellite photos. It was so incredible that everyone who was going to Antarctica for the first time walked away from the windows grinning from ear-to-ear. The view actually sent chills up my spine.

Once in McMurdo we had: a) a welcome-to-McMurdo orientation, b) a housing briefing where we were assigned our rooms, c) a rules meeting, and d) a redeployment paperwork session. Then we carried our carry-on luggage down the hill to our assigned rooms.

By that time it was time to go up the hill to another building and get our checked luggage back. It was back down the hill again to organize our gear in our rooms. We all have roommates, so it is important to organize your own gear to keep it from getting mixed up with that of others.

The temperature at 6:00 pm was 28 degrees Fahrenheit, with a light wind and snow flurries. It actually felt good to be out in the cold air since our clothing is so very warm.

The other team that is at WAIS Divide camp reports that the rover has come in and was tested this morning. The bistatic SAR radar was assembled and so was the plane-wave radar antenna arm. Some testing was done with the horn antenna and spectrum analyzer. Sounds like things are going well out there.

We will be in McMurdo until Wednesday of next week. That is when we are scheduled to have our safety training and we cannot leave for the remote camp until then.

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

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