BICEP Calibration at -90F

Monday, May 19th, 2008

A few days ago the skies were all clear and it was time to run another polarization calibration schedule. This requires to change the configuration of some of the outside parts of the telescope.


Getting Darker

Friday, April 11th, 2008

The sun continues its downward spiral below the horizon and it gets a little bit darker every day. For the last week we were blessed with good weather, which was great for CMB observations and taking pictures. Clear skies come with cold temperatures and it got pretty chilly on this week’s cryogenics runs.

Old and New


Welcome WCATY Scholars

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

A special welcome to all scholars from WCATY visiting this web site. I am excited to work with WCATY again this year.

Welcome, WCATY Scholars!

As your meeting with some of the IceCube scientists draws nearer, you might be wondering why some of us have chosen to spend a year (or more) at the South Pole, of all places. (more…)

Only 60 Of Us Left

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Station closing came early this year. We were working out at DSL on the afternoon of the 13th when rumors started to make the rounds among the SPT crew that the Station would close early, due to poor weather approaching the Pole. One day can make a huge difference with the tight schedule at the South Pole and a mild panic set in among the beekers.

BICEP was in good shape. Cynthia and I just had to tighten a number of screws that had come lose on the telescope mount. We spent a few hours until 1 in the morning, doing a contortionist act around the telescope, before heading back to the Station for a quick celebration with some of the SPT folks.

Station Closing: Last Flight of the Season
This is goodbye for 9 months Fuelies in action A last wave to the gathered crowd before boarding skier 93.
Click on an image to launch the gallery (8 pictures)


Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Life of Team BICEP is never dull. After fixing some issues after the latest power outage we were in a celebratory mood and paid the hardworking SPT gang a visit.

Team BICEP: Yuki, Cynthia, and I

All of us got really exited about using the “Men Lift” to go up to the receiver cabin.


Back Again

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

All good things must come to an end. After spending the last two and a half months traveling around the world, I arrived back at the South Pole today. I immensely enjoyed my time off. The trip took me around the world with scuba diving stops in Fiji and the Philippines, a family visit in Germany and a couple of days of shopping in Hong Kong.

It was a very smooth ride to the Pole. Leaving Christchurch on a C-17 for McMurdo and jumping on an LC-130 the next day for the trip to the Pole. No delays at all, just enough time in McMurdo to catch up with some friends.

Back Again: Going back to the South Pole for my 6th winter.
Checkin for our flight to McMurdo Getting off the C-17 in McMurdo The old fire truck and some curious Kiwis welcome us in McMurdo
Click on an image to launch the gallery (12 pictures)

Stuck At The Other End

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

After a whole week without flights “departing” winter-overs are getting desperate at the South Pole. I am sure Father John and the Archbishop of New Zealand send a prayer every day, as they are just as desperate as everyone else to get out. So far to no avail. (more…)

Belated Cryo Run Video

Monday, November 5th, 2007

I am getting ready to leave the South Pole (if we ever get some flights). There is a lot of activity like moving, packing, sending boxes and cleaning up my computer accounts. While sorting through files on my computer I stumbled upon a video of a cryo run I took in March. I never posted it. Hey, better late than never. “Cryo Nick” is the driver and I just hang on to the dewar, holding the camera, and trying not to fall off.

We pick up the big 250l dewar from BICEP, drive over to QUAD to pick up a couple of 100l dewars and then make our way across the skiway to the cryo facility.

BICEP Aerial Panoramas

Monday, October 8th, 2007

About a week ago the sun was finally high enough above the horizon and the weather conditions where perfect for kite aerial photography. It was a balmy -63°C and the wind was around 10 knots. I managed to get several kite flying sessions in.

The panorama below shows the BICEP telescope. That’s the one I work for. The camera was pretty low and centered right above the telescope. If you pan to the other end of the building you can make out the “South Pole Telescope”, or SPT for short. The low angle from which this panorama was shot makes SPT appear smaller than it is. The primary mirror has a 10m diameter. BICEP is rather small in comparison but, to quote Cynthia, “Small on the ground – big in the sky”.

If you compare this panorama to the one I shot in 2004 of the same building, you will notice the dramatic change.

Please click on the image below to view the panorama:
Click on the image to view the panorama
Temperature: -63°C / -81.4°F, Windchill: -83°C / -117.4°F, Wind: ENE (60°) at 9knt
Date: 2007/09/30 18:30:27 NZDT

Eight days later I took another shot, this time from a higher elevation for a slightly different perspective. This almost turned out to be my last KAPing for the season. I had checked the wind speed before I went out to do the BICEP cryogenics fills. After the fills I went out to fly my big kite, as I had done for the last few days. It turns out that the wind had picked up a couple of knots and once I had the kite airborne, I realized quickly that the wind was too strong. The wind can often be a lot stronger just a bit above the ground. So, I got a very close look at the sastrugi and had a bumpy ride halfway to the IceCube lab before I managed to bring the kite down. After warmed up a bit I tried again, using a smaller kite. It still took two of us to do it and I decided to abort after a short time. I still managed to get this shot.

Please click on the image below to view the panorama: Click on the image to view the panorama
Temperature: -54.2°C / -65.6°F, Windchill: -73.7°C / -100.7°F, Wind: NNE (22.0°) at 11.0 knt
Date: 2007-10-08 17:34:37 NZDT

Cold Feet

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007
Nothing that can't be fixed with a heat gun

Today we spent a lot of time on the roof messing with the calibration mast. Cynthia’s feet got quite cold. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a heat gun. You got to help your colleagues any way you can.