Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Every year we celebrate the creativity of our co-workers by holding a McMurdo Alternative Art Gallery (MAAG) show.  This year it was in the Carp (carpenter) Shop and was very interesting.  The images below are from that night.

Welcome to MAAG at the Carp shop.

Trail up to the Carp shop.

Can YOU handle it?

Coffee can prayer wheels.

Pencil drawing, hmmm...

Kira Morris self portrait, beautiful!

Wood and scrap night light, very cool.


Nasa's LDB (Long Duration Balloon) program is a very cost effective way to collect data from the sky. (...details to follow...)  We launch several every season.  Here are some photos from a tour of the facility and the first launch.

The launch vehicle, a new Delta with a rack on the back to hold the payload.

One of the payloads.

Another payload.

The Launch:  Balloon, parachute and payload.

One of two payload buildings.

Way above in the sky.

Telephoto image of the balloon, parachute and cargo load.

Sailing away!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Night Shift

"What's the Night Shift in the Shuttles Dept at McMurdo like?" 
Not sure how much I have talked about what exactly I do on the night shift, so here goes.

Currently I work 5pm to 5am, which means I have to be there about 4:30pm to get my assignment, start and warm up my vehicle, get my log, sign and radio, check the current road conditions, collect my ECW gear, etc. before I depart for DJ (Derelict  Junction), the pick up point for trips to the Ice runway (C-17's) and Skiway (LC-130's) at Pegasus.

Generally, I have been making 3 round trip Pegasus runs every shift, taking 2.5 to 3 hours each time.  It's about 16 miles each way and depending on road conditions and what vehicle we are driving, we go between 5 and 25 mph (the MAX speed limit is 25 under ideal conditions).  For example, vans go faster than Delta's.

Between trips, we do vehicle maintenance checks, complete paperwork, clean the offices, update the flight mission board and vehicle allocation board, do chores and keep the place organized to some degree.

Sometimes instead of a run to Pegasus, I will dispatch for 3-4 hours, which I enjoy more than I thought I would.  It fits my need to keep things organized personality.  The night shift is a bit calmer than the days as there are no taxi runs, less phone and radio traffic and generally fewer work shifts going on.  The C-17 flights from Christchurch arrive during the night shift which creates a huge workload, but we're all here to support science no matter the time of day or night.

I will transition back to days in early January for the rest of the season, thru late February. 

Elisha and Spring (new word: Plegasus )

The new experimental UAV.

The once new UAV crashed on landing.

It's broke!

Jen, Trish, Spring & Fran hanging out in the Shuttles office.

Dan, Fran and Mike. 

Fran, Matt, Jen, Dan & Cassa.

Kat & Jen.

Office cubbies with our ECW gear.

Sharona - The Boss, Jen - Senior and Night shift Supervisor & Spring - the Junior Senior.

Fueling a Delta.  Fueling the vehicles is a part of the night shift job tasks.

Hut Point Ridge hike

Images from my Summer Solstice hike up Hut Point ridge and the beautiful day at 2am at night!

Sign for the Hut Point Ridge Trail.

View of McMurdo from the point.

The Hut Point Cross.

Mt Discovery in the background, across the sea ice.

The trail to the top.

Seals sunning at night.

That big black thing in the hole surrounded by ice is a seal.

Scott's Hut.

The Holidays

It's Christmas week and the holiday decorations are up.  The town Christmas party was Friday night and I got my piture taken with Santa and friends.  The party was held in the Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF) or Heavy Shop, the only place in town that is big enough.  Christmas was celebrated on Saturday with a traditional dinner and evening programs.

Christmas dinner in the Galley (my breakfast since I am on nights).

Shuttles office door, Fran and I decorated.

Trish, Randy, Spring & Santa.

An amzing piece of art, a holiday tree of stars.

Dorm hallway decorations, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" in black and white pages.

A set of "colour sticks" for people to color in the pages.  I did my share.

Santa, you have all the fun!

Fran in a summer solstice snowstorm.

Elisha and the gingerbread Delta.

Gingerbread Delta Dawn

Gingerbread Delta Dawn, part II


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More McMurdo randomness

Here's a couple of shots (and thoughts) from my latest walk around town, trip to Plegasus and other random observations of Mactown...

Cross at Hut Point honoring George Vince.

NYANG LC-130 under a coudy sky at night.

Cargo load check on the way to Pegasus.

M1 (fuel tank) Gargoyle

3 am sun burning thru the ice fog.

Dramatic light and ice along the Pegasus Road.

Pressure Ridges.

The vehicle gas station at Plegasus airfield. Talk about self service.

Don't ask me...

but it's a fun place.

Springtime, when the snow melts in the sun and re-freezes on a daily cycle.

The cab of my Delta, with my daypack and green cap on the 3 person passenger seat.

I totally get it.  I'm grateful to be here on my seventh continent!

A glimpe of the Ross Sea monster.

Helium tanks for NASA's LDB (Long Duration Balloon) program.

A warming hut, called an Apple because it's red and round, duh!

Science Support needs all kinds of lubricants, Tennessee whiskey for example,

and Mexican beer.

A C-17 landing with science support cargo (see above).

The snow road to Plegasus airfield, 14 plus miles of joy or agony, depending on conditions.

Ivan the Terra Bus, capacity 60, top speed 26 mph.

The logo of our supply ship, coming in late January, we hope.

The endless sea of ICE.