Friday, October 9, 2009

More Balloon Launches!!

today's view

Temperature: -57.8C
Wind Chill: -81.2C
Wind Speed: 15.2 kts

Okay, I'm a slacker! There's a lot to catch up on, too...guest ozone balloon launchers, power plant watches, station openings...

One of the SPT (South Pole Telescope) scientists came out to watch a balloon launch, probably didn't expect to be a part of the launch, but then that's the beauty of this place...opportunities are where you find them!

Good old Ross is holding the balloon, while Cully is at his usual post, holding the payload. The payload is a radio package that will send temperature, pressure, and ozone data back down to us during the launch.

When Ross releases the balloon, the wind will take it pretty quickly. Cully has a lot of slack on his end, so he'll run under the balloon until the balloon has enough lift to keep the payload from slamming into the ice!

The balloon is off...

and we watch it as it disappears in a matter of a few minutes! You can barely see it in the upper right of the second pic. The visibility was pretty bad that day. A week later, Cully and I launched a balloon that rose up to just under 30km, and we could still see it at 27km! Yeah, some days down here are just perfect!!

I wound up going out to SPT, to hassle the guys as they tried to repair part of their telescope. Here's Ross as he troubleshoots a bit of the inner workings of the telescope's heating system.

Ross and his supervisor, Erik, going through a couple additional possibilities to fix the issue before Ross and I leave and head back to the station, because you don't want to make this trip more times than absolutely necessary!!

I can't help but think of Darth Vader with this picture of Ross and Erik!

What I might do is break up this blog, stop this one here, and do the power plant portion in a couple days...

The season is coming to a close, and we are about a week away from receiving our first visitors for the summer...which means I'll be seeing scenery in another color other than white before too long!!

See everybody soon!!
Capt. Splash

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