Mr. Pastirik's Daily Log 28 November 2005November 28, 2005
Swirling snow obscured my boots, and wind stung my ears. I have forgotten what the outside world looks like without my sunglasses on. Higher in the atmosphere clouds remained nearly still in their puffiness. A light cast of gray in the clouds added solemnity to the day.
Todayís adventure was traveling with Will Brubaker to Pegasus and Willie airfields. These airfields will become the primary sites once the ice runway near McMurdo is closed down on December 5th. Will, a heavy equipment mechanic, services the generators on a daily basis. Will hails from Jackson, Wyoming and learned his skills in the army. This is his first season, but plans on returning repeatedly. Will has a library of information about the workings of heavy equipment in his head, and in a place like Antarctica knowledge and skill are the bases for success. Again, a good education and constant training are the ways to obtain knowledge. The generators Will services run on a fuel similar to kerosene designated JP8. He used some of the same equations (for example; P = V x I) to check output. It was heart-warming for me!
While Will was changing the oil in one of the generators (zero weight oil is used) to help minimize wear and tear, reduce heat created by friction, and maximize the efficiency, I walked over to the Advanced Thin Ionization Calorimeter Balloon Experiment (ATCI) project. The scientists working at ATCI are LSU professors. They are sending up incredibly huge balloons with scientific instruments to collect information about Cosmic Rays in an effort to understand the beginnings of our universe (the Big Bang) and to increase our understanding of super novas. How heavy are the instruments carried by the balloon, how high does the balloon fly, and how big is the balloon? I am glad you asked. The instruments that comprise the payload are 4300 plus pounds, the balloon floats at 120,000 feet (at the very edge of space!) and when fully inflated the balloon is 171 feet high, and could fill the volume of a major league baseball stadium!
It still amazes me that a high school teacher from Atlanta, can introduce himself to a dishwasher, or power plant operator, or ATCI professor and each stops what they are doing, talks with me about what they do, and lets me take pictures. I work with, and have met great people here.
I went to see the test flight today. Dr. Glenn Diskin, who works for NASA and is responsible for the water measurements, is leaving tomorrow. Firm procedures need to be established to ensure the missionís success. Dave Tanner, a scientist at GA Tech, was sent to collect the other NO instrument at South Pole to be used in place of the faulty one on the Twin Otter. The one we have here is not up to par, and time is slipping away. He will return tonight.