Finally getting to work!

My mom sent me an email today saying that she figured we must be busy since neither my collaborators nor I have updated our blogs recently. Indeed, she was correct! We have been working overtime to make up for the schedule delays now that our cargo is here, and a ton of progress has been made in a few short days. Our last night off was Halloween, and a few of us managed to put together costumes. Mine consisted of long underwear, belts, and a pair of leggings tied around my head.

Three of the SPIDER crew dressed up for Halloween: me as a ninja, Steve as a fancy SPIDER, and Bill as Commondante Marcos (if you knew who Bill was dressed as, he bought you a beer. Bill didn't have to buy many people beers.)

Three of the SPIDER crew dressed up for Halloween: me as a ninja, Steve as a fancy SPIDER, and Bill as Commondante Marcos (if you knew who Bill was dressed as, he bought you a beer. Bill didn’t have to buy many people beers.)

The next day, Saturday, we received the first half of our cargo. With ten people, unpacking wasn’t too bad, and we were done and waiting on the second half of our stuff by early afternoon. We found ways to pass the time.

Unfortunately, the rest of our stuff didn’t show up until the next day, but with that long of a wait, we were all bursting with energy ready to get to work. In the three days we’ve had since getting unpacked, we’ve opened up the cryostat and each of the six telescopes, carefully inspected each, and reassembled and closed them up to the point where we will put them in the cryostat tomorrow. This is a lot of careful work, and while we are well practiced at it by this point, we have still had some long days at the high bay. Here’s a tour of where we’ve been spending our time:

Apart from finally getting to prepare our experiment for flight, which is exciting enough in itself, I am still awed every day to be in Antarctica. Every day I step outside for a break or to go home, there’s some new cool lighting, some new cool clouds, or my favorite new phenomenon here: Fata Morgana. It’s like a mirage you’re used to seeing when driving on a highway. There is a temperature gradient between the hot road and cooler air above it, and that caused light to refract in such a way that you see the sky on the road. Here, it’s the opposite. You have cold ice, and warm air above it, and when the conditions are right, that causes features to look extended. Jamil has a fantastic photo of it here. I see this everywhere, to different degrees at different times. It makes you constantly question whether what you’re seeing is real or in illusion. Antarctica is such a strange place.

In addition to the landscape, Antarctica also poses some unique… problems? Minor inconveniences? Things happen on a daily basis that you just wouldn’t expect to happen anywhere else. To close, here are a couple expamples from the past couple of days:

Looking forward to the surprises that we’ll meet in the coming weeks. Let’s all cross our fingers that they are not cryogenic in nature…

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