After the trip to Windless Bight AWS, we were able to setup a new power system to install at Willie Field AWS. After a few days of Twin Otter cancellations, we decided to drive back out to Willie Field AWS and Pegasus North AWS on Thursday, December 1st. Lee dropped Dave and I off at Willie Field AWS while he drove out to Pegasus North AWS. Dave and I pushed/pulled a sled full of our tools and the 250 lbs power system about 50 feet from the truck to the site. Then we cut the cables to the old power system that we couldn’t recover the week before and installed the new power system. In the meantime, Lee quickly changed the port for the freewave modem, and it was working correctly again.
On Saturday, December 3rd, we flew with the riggers (Andrew, Emily, and Jon) to Alexander Tall Tower AWS, which is a 100-foot tower with 6 levels of instrumentation. The flight from McMurdo to Tall Tower takes about 45 minutes, so it’s a nice and short flight! Upon arrival, Lee, Dave, and I started to dig out the power system box, the solar panel tower, and the power cable to the tower. Since this power system box has 6 batteries it weighs about 450 lbs., thus we have to remove the batteries before we can lift it to the surface. Then we put all the batteries back in the box. For the solar panel tower, we also have to remove the deadman at the bottom of the guy wires…which is a lot of effort haha!
All of this digging and lifting took about 2-3 hours. At the same time, Andrew and Emily were working to raise the instrument booms back to their original heights from 2011.
Then Jon and Andrew climbed up to the very top and installed a new GPS sensor. At the same time, Dave and I were practicing our karate kicks to stay warm (if only I had a picture). It must have been incredibly cold and windy 100 feet up at the top of the tower!
Lastly, Emily helped us raise the lower instrument booms that we not at deathly, windy heights. Lee got all ~20 cables plugged in, and we were all set to leave! It ended up being nearly 7 hours on the ground and a very long day, but it was great to get all this work done! The riggers did an incredible job helping us!
Monday and Tuesday have been full of more cancellations due to higher priority missions and some more unpleasant weather. We have about one more week in McMurdo!