On Tuesday, November 18th we took a helicopter out to Laurie II AWS. Lee and I were originally scheduled to take the small A-Star helicopter, but then we realized we needed to take a 180 lbs power system that wasn’t going to fit very well on the A-Star. We got switched to the larger Bell 212 helicopter so the large, heavy box would fit better. Another 4 workers from town got to come along as well since there was plenty of room. Once we landed, we dug down a couple feet to disconnect the old power cable. Then Lee removed the junction box and solar panel. We made about a one-foot pit to put the new power system in, and Lee installed the new solar panel. Then all the cables were plugged in, wrapped, and taped onto the tower. We received a transmission that it was working, and then we packed up the helicopter and flew back to McMurdo.
When we came back, Dave Mikolajczyk had just arrived in town! He will tell you more about this in the next blog post!
On Wednesday, November 19th we took a Twin Otter out to Emma AWS. Unfortunately, Dave wasn’t able to come because he had to do some training in McMurdo. Emma AWS is located on the far southern Ross Ice Shelf, so it’s a long plane ride out there. On the way to the site we have to stop at a fuel cache call S+200. All passengers have to get out the plane while the pilots re-fuel. This took about 40 minutes, and then we were off heading further south!
It took about 4.5 hours total to get to Emma AWS. This area of the Ross Ice Shelf is always windy due to its proximity to Transantarctic Mountain range, so it was no surprise that it was about 20 kts the whole time we were out there. We quickly dug down about 2 feet to recover the older power system. Then we installed the new power system and got all the cables plugged in, wrapped, and taped to the tower. We received a transmission that it was working. Then Lee climbed up the tower to measure the heights of the sensors. On the way up, he noticed that a lot of the bolts were loose on the tower due to the vibrations from the high winds. All of the bolts were tightened before leaving. Luckily, we were done in about an hour.
Dave will take it from here to write about the rest of the week!