The end of SPIDER’s flight

SPIDER was released from her balloon at 5:55 am local time today (11:55 EST Saturday), and parachuted gracefully (we think) to earth. She took a pretty weird tour of the continent. The winds didn’t act exactly as we expected, and we went very slowly along for most of the time. Since our cryogens ran out yesterday afternoon, and the winds would have only pushed us further north, we cut her down. SPIDER’s final landing place is near several small sites, as close as 70 km away, which might be used for recovery of the data drives and other small parts.

John Ruhl made cool trajectory maps. This one shows just about our final flight path, made a few hours before we landed. We'll recover SPIDER using planes taking off from ITASE-1.

John Ruhl made cool trajectory maps. This one shows our whole flight path and final resting place. We expect to recover SPIDER using planes taking off from ITASE-1.

With recovery the last remaining piece of the campaign, much of the crew headed north yesterday. Only six of us remain, and we will all be glad to no longer be on shifts watching for our little data packets. Hopefully we can get a quick recovery done and head north ourselves, but we’re not sure when that will be yet.

I went on one adventure this week, and that was to go out to Hut Point to watch the ice breaker on its way in. It is clearing the way for the big cargo vessel that will arrive this week and supply McMurdo with 18 months worth of food and supplies. Steve and I went out hoping to see some awesome ice crushing action, but the boat was too far away to really see do its thing. Instead, we were treated to a bunch of seals swimming by. Seals look like way more majestic animals in the water than they do on the ice. It was fun to watch them swim and play with each other in the crystal clear water.

Every Thursday night at Scott Base, they have America night, which is the only time Americans are allowed in their bar (I mentioned this in a previous blog post- the only other time I’ve gone to America night). On Friday morning as a special treat, they opened up Scott Base for Day Bar America Night. So night shift people could enjoy as well! Since there is usually very little social life for night shifters, this was a pleasant break from the usual routine.

Outside Scott Base, there is a veritable swarm of seals, so I took a couple pictures of them.

Now we get a day or two of absolutely nothing to do on SPIDER while logistics of recovery are worked out. Hopefully we’ll have nice weather and I can get out and find something more exciting to document!

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