Category Archives: Antarctica

Smithsonian Article and TED X

TED X Bozeman

Castle Rock

panoramic castle rock

panoramic castle rock 2


Castle rock is exactly what it sounds like.  Its castle that looks like a rock.  Or a rock that looks like a castle.  I couldnt really figure out which way it goes but it sure is fun to climb up.  If there are any old school Nickelodeon fans out there its kind of like the Aggro Crag in the show Guts.  Wind, snow, tumbling rocks, international fame and glory.  Lets go to Moe for the official time.


This is the view from the top.  The other other panoramic shots in this post are also from the top of the rock.




Finding this machine parked in the snow 3 miles away from station with no keys in it was arguably the most disappointing time in my life.  Its a Tucker Sno Cat.  Vintage: 1984.  This thing is perfect.  Hydraulic steering, 4 track drive and a cozy little cab in the back.  I just need to figure out why I need one of these back in Oregon and convince Becky that its a necessity.  The dog would like it too.  This ones name is Stella.  I spent more time in the cab of this thing than I did on Castle Rock.


Another sweet machinery/landscape juxtaposition for the collection.  Score.



Blog Article about the WISSARD drillers

Meet my co workers and friends.  These guys are rad.




Does this make me look fata?


This is the best example of Fata Morgana that Ive seen on the ice.  This is a photograph of Ivan the Terra Bus off in the distance.

A Fata Morgana is an unusual form of a mirage that appears right above the horizon.  The name comes from the vulgar latin word for “fairy” and an some sorceress named Morgan le Fay.  Turns out that she believed that these mirages she was looking at in the Strait of Messina were fairy tale castles and or false land created by witchcraft to lure sailors to their death.   In reality, they’re just cool to look at and Morgan le Fay was totally irrational.  Witch craft?  Really?




These are two pictures from a friend of mine that got a quick daytip to the ice caves.  If I was a superhero Id probably make this my home base.




Maps and Randoms

Ice Thickness Map

co Ice Thickness Map


RossIsland_RADARI pulled most of the pics in this post from the common drive availabe to everybody at McMurdo.  There are some pretty neat maps in there.  Here is a small sampling.

US vs. Antarctica

US vs. Antarctica

USAP Stations

USAP Stations


Becon Valley


McMurdo Aerial

McMurdo Aerial

Ice Stock 2012 167


Tall Penguin

Tall Penguin



c 17


2006 Sout Pole Traverse Map

2006 Sout Pole Traverse Map







IceStock is Antarcticas premier musical event.  What do you like?  Bluegrass, Metallica, Hair Metal, The Beatles, Rockabilly, Ska, Folk, Britney Spears, GNR, Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin?  They had it all.




Pink Torpedo performing Enter Sandman at midnight.







The official Pink Torpedo tour bus.  A grand entrance to the stage.






Daren’s bluegrass band.  Daren is on the right representing on the banjo.  Daren is part of the WISSSARD drill team.





Daren playing base for a couple Led Zeppelin songs.  Crushing it.


MAAG, Traverse and Ob Hill



The traverse left for Lake Willans yesterday afternoon.  Here is a link of the traverse guys rolling out.

The WISSARD Traverse began its ~12 day journey to Subglacial Lake Whillans, today December 30th. WISSARDS gathered at the WISSARD test site to wish the traverse team well. The traverse travels an average of 7 miles an hour with 12 tractors towing wissard drill and science equipment. The traverse team hopes to reach the sheer zone, 20 miles from the WISSARD test site, on Day 1

We will be in town building another small hot water drill until January 14th when we fly out to the field site.


Each year McMurdo has an art show in the carpentry shop.  This wheel of death was out in front of the entrance for people to get hurt on.














Inside this tent was he video footage of the SCINI robot going downhole in test hole we drilled.


Downhole footage




Observation Hill





Climbing Ob Hill



LDB-Long Duration Balloon


We had the opportunity to visit the NASA Long Duration Balloon facility this week.  There are two of these tall buildings that house the payloads for the balloons.   The payloads that we saw were both telescopes that are being used to look back in time to understand how the universe evolved from the big bang to its present state.  When the scientist that was giving the tour explained that I had to correct her.  She kept calling it a telescope but I had to tell her that it was actually a time machine.

It took me a second to process that.  How is it possible to look into the past without a Deloreon and a flux capacitor?  All you need is a telescope.  It all starts with the speed of light, 186,000 MILES per Second.  Fast.  Fast enough to travel to the sun (93,000,000 miles) in 500 seconds.  One hundred eighty six thousand miles per second.  The moon is 239,000 miles away and it takes light just 1.3 seconds to get to the moon.  So everytime you look at the moon you are seeing it as it was 1.3 seconds ago.  Extrapolate that out to the nearest star in our galaxy which is 4 light years away.  4 years of travelling at 186000 miles per second to get to our closest star neighbor.  When light from that star is collected by a telescope it is a snapshot of that star as it was 4 years ago.

Distance and time are analogous in space.  Time and money are analogous on Earth.  So they say.

One of my favorite facts:  The milky way galaxy is 100,000 light years across and 1000 light years in thickness.  There are between 100-200 billion other galaxies other than the milky way.  That makes my head explode to think about.


Payload 1.  This is what is suspended from the balloon.  Its a telescope/time machine.



Payload 2.  Another telescope.  Everything on these payloads is sacrificial.  Sometimes they are recovered without damage but rarely.

The balloon on these when at altitude (120,000 feet) is as large as the interior of a football stadium.

SCINI and Penguins

I had another opportunity to go out into the field with the SCINI robot team.

We drove out about 25 miles west of McMurdo on snow machines to deploy the robot under the sea ice.  When we got out there we had to drill a hole in the ice with a “jiffy drill”.

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SCINI is deployed through about an 8″ hole through the sea ice.  Its a tethered ROV which means its communications are hardwired to the robot through a neutrally buoyant  line that is on the surface.  The robot tows an instrument package behind it as it surveys the underside of the sea ice.  The robot is controlled with a Playstation controller inside an insulated pop up tent.

We then went out to mark more locations to deploy the robot using a handheld GPS.  When we returned, we had two visitors.  I got to spend my Thanksgiving with two Emperor Penguins this year.

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