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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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  Sunday, December 25, 2005

Today is Christmas Day in McMurdo. There were midnight services as well as morning services for those who wanted to attend. One highlight was that at the Catholic services, the priest used the Erebus Chalice. This lovely silver chalice is one that was used in 1840 by the crew and expeditioners on the H.M.S. Erebus, when that ship, captained by Sir James Clark Ross, came to Antarctica. The chalice was brought back to McMurdo and donated to the Chapel of the Snows on the 75th anniversary of Robert F. Scott's 1911 expedition to the South Pole. So this chalice is part of the long, heroic struggle to understand this beautiful continent. It was quite moving to see current expeditioners and support staff here having the opportunity to be a part of the long history of this chalice.

The cooks worked all day to prepare a wonderful, traditional Christmas feast. For vegetarians, they had a tofu puff pastery that was out of this world. Those who prefer meat could have duck and/or prime rib. The desert table was positively groaning with almost every type of pie and cake known to man as well as ice cream. The tables were set with white tablecloths and many people wore their holiday finery. It was quite festive.

The team at WAIS camp reported that they had run into some problems with the bistatic SAR yesterday. They ran several tests and it appears that the problem may be temperature-related. They talked with Prasad and David today and have come up with some solutions that should overcome the problem. In spite of these problems, they were still able to observe bedrock with 5 dB SNR at 2 km separation with 16000 integrations. The ice thickness at WAIS is about 3500 meters, so this success is quite exciting.

Richard Stansbury and Joel Plummer decided they were going to climb Observation Hill today. Observation Hill consists of volcanic rock and gravel and stretches about 700 feet above McMurdo. It is a moderately steep climb, taking about 1-2 hours for most people. Both Joel and Richard reached the top, entitling them to wear Observation Hill t-shirts. There was also an uphill run up observation hill today. Many runners participated and we heard that the winner did it in just a little over 7 minutes. Now that is someone who is ready for the 25K marathon held January 1 here in McMurdo!

Tomorrow we have some mandatory briefings and will get the last of our cargo in line to be shipped out to WAIS. Each step moves us one day closer to our goal.

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

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