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25 August, 2003

Preparing for the CN flight

We spent the day preparing for the Condensation Nucleus (CN) flight. A CN counter looks at very small parcticles in the air. It is a slightly larger device and it is expensive. This is one balloon that we want to recover later in October. This means we first have to predict its landing site, if it ends up in the ocean we will lose it, and it sure would be tough to pick it up on Mt. Erebus (active volcano). To find out where it will land we check weather maps of the winds in the upper atmosphere. You can find out the weather here by going to www.mcmurdo.gov.

When the balloon is in the air it has an Argus satellite receiver and a GPS locater. The instruments have to be calibrated and checked. When it lands the antenna must remain upright so we make a pvc pipe structure that will balance it as it lands.

It is a lot of mundane work that simply takes time. Science is like that, you have to have patience to wait for discoveries.

Tomorrow the winds look good, we are within the ice shelf. Better still we received notification that an air parcel needs to be sampled for ozone so we will launch both instruments with one balloon.

Temperatures have been around -20 to -30 degrees C. With all the ice around us, it is hard to remember that McMurdo is located on an island.

The landing gear for the balloon.

The CN counter with PI Terry Deshler

Me working on the Argus satellite transmitter.

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