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28 August, 2003

The Ice Field

Today we prepped the same instrument that fell to the sea ice the last time we launched. There are so many little things to be concerned about, wires, switches, chemicals, packaging, satellite transmissions, and locator beacons. Not to mention the wind forecast. But today it looked good for a launch, and in the afternoon we were able to get it off. It went straight up this time, there was no wind to knock it sideways, but still I sense a need to get better at handling the balloon. After launch we tracked the balloon up to 25 kilometers. Unfortunately we delayed in getting it going so the automatic timer cut the instrument loose from the balloon and it parachuted down before it reached its maximum altitude, a big mistake, and to add to that the heater unit failed in flight so the data is scrubbed. Zero for Two now. The next one will be a charm.

Elsewhere in McMurdo, the crews are busy plowing the snow off the ice field. They have abandoned the Pegasus field we came in on during WinFly and they are making a new field closer to MacTown so that it will be easier to operate the MainBody in October.

Tomorrow we will try another flight if winds are good.

The balloon inflated, you can see the inflation tube dangling. There are crystals on the camera lens, it is minus 20 degrees C.

The ice field runway being prepared. In October planes will land here.

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