Friday, December 19, 2008

First full day at work

We all know it takes a while to get used to the conditions up here at Dome C, so we gave ourselves a good... err... 36 hours rest and planning time before getting down to the nitty-gritty stuff.

Yesterday we spent the day reviewing the status of both the CCD observatory station and the autonomous CASE field stations, and digging up lots of information that somehow never made it to Strasbourg. We had a number of surprises, some good, some less good, but by the end of the day we had an adequate mental picture of the current status and the work ahead.

Today we have worked on improving the radio connection to the CASE stations, and updating the firmware on the Q330 acquisition system at the observatory station. I shall spare you the technical details (they are being written up for our collaborators back home) and just say we should see the results of these changes in the next day or so.

The snow and ice around Concordia are flat for as far as the eye can see, which makes for poor photographic opportunities. In order to spice things up a bit, I've posted above a picture I took on the flight from Christchurch to McMurdo, in which you can see a stunning mountain range framed by the C-130's window.

What surprised me was the sharpness of the features, with the mountain crests standing out like knife edges. In some places we could see huge glaciers snaking their way down from the crests, with sets of curved crevasses showing the direction of flow. The excellent visibility made for a superb show, which went a long way to easing the boredom of the noisy 7 1/2 hour flight!!

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