Archive for October, 2008


Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Yesterday morning we established our last communication link to MARISAT F-2. Today Intelsat initiated the de-orbit maneuver. The satellite was launched in October of 1976 and performed for 32 years. We have used MARISAT F-2 for number of years from the South Pole and it has been one of our most reliable links to the outside world. The end has come suddenly. Deterioration of the telecommand link caused concerns for the operator INTELSAT and they scheduled de-orbit for the end of November but moved it forward to October 30 with a week’s notice.

The first commercial mobile communications satellite, MARISAT, in  1975, built by Hughes for Comsat and used by both U.S. Navy and merchant  marine ships. (Courtesy of Hughes Space and Communications Company)

The first commercial mobile communications satellite, MARISAT, in 1975, built by Hughes for Comsat and used by both U.S. Navy and merchant marine ships. (Courtesy of Hughes Space and Communications Company)

I work on the BICEP telescope and thus observe a sidereal schedule, which means I shift forward roughly four minutes a day, just like the satellite schedule. For two years MARISAT F-2 has been my steady companion, becoming visible form the South Pole roughly the same time I get up. I’ll miss it! No more reading the daily news while having a cup of coffee in the morning :-(

MARISAT F-2 offered global maritime communications when launched in October of 1976 and was the second member of a three satellite system all launched that year. The satellites were manufactured by Hughes Aircraft Company and became the first global maritime system. It was launched aboard a Delta-2914 from Cape Canaveral by NASA.

[tags]Antarctica, South Pole, Comms, MARISAT[/tags]

Open for Business

Monday, October 27th, 2008

After a few days of weather delays we received the first plane load of passengers. Most of them were seasoned veterans who, along with the FNGs, received the typical warm South Pole welcome right on the flight deck.

Here they come



Monday, October 27th, 2008

The crews of the Kenn Borek Basler and Twin Otter were nice enough to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables in Chile. It was great to shock the system with some vitamins after eight months. We had grilled pineapple for dinner, with tomato and avocado salad and fresh oranges and apples for desert, washed down by a Gin tonic with fresh lime.

Fresh oranges from Chile


First Aircraft Landing of the Season

Friday, October 24th, 2008

A few minutes ago a Basler made the first landing of the 2008/2009 season, bringing our winter officially to a close. The flight had been delayed by bad weather at Rothera Station. When the weather cleared up enough around 1am they decided to go for it. It is a beautiful day down here and the temperature was just above the cutoff of -54°C. They touched down shortly after 8am and took off for McMurdo after a very brief fuel stop. We expect to see them again with 16 passengers tomorrow.

Kenn Borek Basler in the fuel pit


FAA Inspection Flight

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Yesterday afternoon an FAA Challenger jet came over from McMurdo for a skiway inspection. They buzzed us a few times and didn’t actually land. This was the first aircraft we have seen since February and it created enough excitement to draw some of the Station dweller out in the open to watch it.

FAA Challenger at the South Pole


Going Postal

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

It is the time of the year when empty cardboard boxes are in high demand and people start asking around for packing tape. Another post office day had people lugging their boxes up to the galley. Of course all of us procrastinators used this last post office day before Station opening and there was quite a long line at times.

Post office


Going Out with a Bang

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Quite unexpectedly the galley finished the winter with a very big bang. Last week chef Michael cooked a huge Thai dinner, followed by the “Biggest Breakfast in Antarctica” (BBIA) on Sunday, and if that wasn’t enough we had some great Indian food this week as well.

Most of the time I ate too much to even lift a camera but I managed to get a few pictures of the Thai dinner preparations while I was washing dishes in the galley.

Chef Michael


More Bad News

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

The string of bad news from the continent doesn’t stop. An Australian colleague at Davis Station came off a quad bike on a trip to Trajer Ridge. The man suffered a fractured pelvis and multiple fractures to both ankles. He is in a serious but stable condition and options of an evacuation are being investigated.

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The Norwegian explorer from Troll Station arrived in Cape Town and received treatment at the local hospital.

Hopefully there won’t be any more of these posts. This is the time of the year when those of us who have been here all year turn into space cadets and zombies and the new people are full of too much energy. Definitely time to be extra, extra careful. Everyone out there please stay safe!

Medevac from Norwegian Troll Station Update 2

Monday, October 20th, 2008

The South African Times reports that a rescue crew, led by pilot John Roberts, left Cape Town International Airport last Saturday to evacuate 30-year-old Norwegian mechanic Sigurd Sande.

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The aircraft is on its way back to Cape town.

Medevac from Norwegian Troll Station Update

Monday, October 13th, 2008

The medevac for Norwegian Sigurd Sande, 30, was aborted last Friday. A private jet had taken off from Cape town, but had to return 1500km out from Troll Station due to bad weather. Another attempt will be made as soon as weather conditions improve.

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